Comprehensive ADA Compliance Checklist for Section 508 (US Rehabilitation Act) & Beyond

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects people with disabilities from discrimination in employment, transportation, education, public and private spaces, communication, and government accessibility. This is an important law when it comes to websites and web applications because web accessibility and ADA site compliance are crucial for any business or organization that wants to reach as many people as possible. If optimized for web accessibility, websites rank higher in search engine results and experience increased revenue from an improved and more inclusive audience reach.

 

Americaneagle.com provides a number of ADA compliance services as well as web accessibility services to help you ensure your website meets ADA standards and unlocks the full potential of website accessibility for increased reach and success. Contact us today to learn more. 

 

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility is the process of making websites ADA-compliant by ensuring that web applications, technologies, and tools are accessible to people with disabilities.  To ensure that individuals with visual, auditory, physical, cognitive, or neurological impairments can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with your website effectively, we’ve put together some common guidelines for web accessibility. By implementing these 15 steps, you can significantly improve the accessibility of your website and provide a better user experience for all visitors.

Graphic of an ADA compliance checklist with categories such as alternative text, captions, keyboard accessibility, and color contrast.

 

1: Alternative Text for Images & Non-Text Content

To be an ADA-compliant website, images, graphics, multimedia content, and icons should have alternative text that describes the function or information they represent. Alt text is an important factor for SEO and search rankings because Google uses it with the contents on a page to understand what the image is about.

2: Captions and Transcripts

Captions and transcripts make web content accessible to people with hearing impairments, as well as providing rich and relevant text content for crawlers to read and analyze, which can significantly improve the SEO of your website.

3: Video and Audio Accessibility

An accessible video with accessible controls is important when it comes to ADA site compliance. It typically includes captions or a transcript and careful use of animation, flashes, color, and text. A video needs to be delivered in an accessible format and may include an additional audio description when the default audio track isn't enough.

4: Readable Text

It’s important to use legible fonts and provide text that is resizable without loss of content or functionality. Readable text should avoid small font sizes and offer options to adjust text size.

5: Color Contrast

Ensuring that text and images have a sufficient background contrast is important for those with visual impairments. Using ADA compliance testing tools to check and meet WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) contrast standards is also important for website accessibility.

6: Keyboard Accessibility

For website accessibility, it’s important to ensure all interactive elements, including forms and buttons, can be navigated and activated using a keyboard alone. This includes users of screen readers, but can also include users who have trouble operating a mouse or trackball.

7: Keyboard Traps & Focus Indicators

ADA web compliance also includes avoiding keyboard traps where users cannot navigate away from a certain element. Traps can occur in drop-down menus, input boxes, or even on hyperlinks. Focus indicators are visual cues or elements that help users identify where their focus is on a webpage or application.

8: Navigational Accessibility

Creating a consistent and easy-to-follow navigation structure is important for web accessibility because it helps users quickly and intuitively navigate through a site. Avoiding layout changes that disorient users and providing skip navigation links at the top of each page allows users to bypass repetitive content and easily access the main content, and this is especially important for users with disabilities who rely on screen readers.  

9: Alternative Navigation

Alternative navigation methods, such as sitemaps or breadcrumb trails, provide more ways for users to navigate and access content on a website, ensuring that they can find what they're looking for without relying solely on drop-down menus or hover interactions. 

10: Form Accessibility

Form accessibility is important for ADA site compliance because it ensures that all users with disabilities can successfully interact with and submit forms on a website. Clear and descriptive labels for form fields help users understand what information is required, while error messages and suggestions assist them in filling out forms correctly, reducing frustration and improving web accessibility. 

11: Headers and Content Structure

Headers and content structure are important for both user experience and SEO. Using headings in a hierarchical order (e.g., h1, h2, h3, etc.) helps organize content, making it easier for users to scan and understand it. Additionally, search engines use header tags to better understand the hierarchy and relevance of the content, so having a proper header and content structure may potentially improve the website's visibility and ranking in search results.

12: ARIA Roles and Attributes

Using ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) roles and attributes is important to enhance web accessibility for dynamic content and widgets. It allows assistive technologies to properly interpret and interact with these elements, ensuring that users with disabilities can fully engage with and understand the content and functionality provided.

13: Accessibility Statement

Including a web accessibility statement on your website is important because it demonstrates your commitment to website accessibility and provides users with contact information to report any accessibility issues they may find.

14: User Testing and Validation

Another important step in your ADA compliant website checklist is to regularly test your website using web accessibility evaluation tools and assistive technologies. In addition, you should conduct usability tests with individuals with disabilities to gather feedback and make improvements and immediately address and fix any accessibility issues that were found during testing.

15: Regular Updates

Regular updates ensure that your website remains accessible and inclusive for all users because, over time, technology and accessibility standards evolve, and outdated content may not meet the latest web accessibility guidelines and requirements.

Choosing the Right Digital Agency for ADA Compliance Services

Click here for a website accessibility and ADA compliance audit

Choose Americaneagle.com as your website agency and web accessibility experts. With our expertise and experience when it comes to ADA compliance services, you can rest assured that your digital solutions will be inclusive and accessible to all. Our experienced web accessibility team is well-versed in the ADA, WCAG, and global accessibility laws. We have trusted testers and certified professionals who are dedicated to solving accessibility compliance challenges. At Americaneagle.com, accessibility for all is always a top priority. Not only is this important for making sure those with disabilities can access your website, it’s also important to help your website’s SEO and to avoid ADA compliant website lawsuits.

Our experienced accessibility experts are here to help you regardless of where you’re at when it comes to web accessibility. We provide the following:

  • An initial consultation if you don’t know where to begin
  • An assessment that identifies accessibility shortcomings
  • Remediation services to fix any accessibility issues
  • Ongoing support to maintain compliance

If you have any questions on whether or not your website is ADA compliant, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Accessibility Compliance Standards & Requirement FAQs

Hands typing on a laptop with overlaid graphics symbolizing quality assurance and digital accessibility standards.

Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding accessibility compliance standards and requirements.

What are the basic requirements of the ADA?

The basic requirements of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) include providing equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities to apply for and work in jobs they are qualified for, reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, program accessibility, and effective communication with individuals with disabilities. Ensuring web accessibility is a key part of the ADA.

Is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act the same as ADA compliance?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is not the same as ADA compliance. While both address accessibility for individuals with disabilities, the ADA applies to businesses open to the public, state and local governments, and covers a broader range of entities. Section 508 specifically focuses on federal agencies and requires them to make electronic and information technology accessible.

What is a voluntary product accessibility template or VPAT?

A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a document that outlines the accessibility features and conformance of a product or service with relevant accessibility standards, such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). It provides information about the level of accessibility support and any known barriers that may exist within the product.

What is AODA accessibility?

AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Enacted in Ontario, Canada, it sets standards and requirements that organizations and businesses in Ontario must follow to remove barriers and ensure accessibility in various areas, including customer service, employment, transportation, communication, and buildings.

What is EN 301 549 accessibility standards?

EN 301 549 is a harmonized European standard that defines accessibility requirements for information and communications technology (ICT) products and services. It adopts the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as part of its requirements and covers a range of ICT products and services, including hardware, software applications, websites, and electronic documents.

What are the WCAG compliance standards for websites?

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) are a set of standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to ensure web content is accessible to people with disabilities. These standards provide guidelines for making websites perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, ensuring accessibility for individuals with various disabilities.

Is Section 508 ADA compliance only for US-based businesses?

Section 508 compliance is primarily applicable to US federal agencies and departments, ensuring that people with disabilities have access to federal agency resources. It also extends to organizations, both government and non-government, dealing with US federal agencies and it specifically focuses on the accessibility of electronic and information technology (EIT).

 


About Author

Shawn Griffin
Shawn has been with Americaneagle.com since 1999 in a variety of roles. Currently, Shawn is part of our digital marketing and content team. In addition to editing and producing written company pieces, he produces copy for clients and he also helps to produce our radio and TV spots. He wants to make sure everybody knows that it’s truly a collaborative effort – between many, including the people he’s worked for during the past 20+ years!


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