98% Of Websites Are Not Fully Accessible by ADA Standards: How to Ensure Yours Is

As featured in Emerging Manager Monthly



Disability Pride Month, initially founded to honor the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is celebrated every July. The month serves as an opportunity to elevate disabled voices, celebrate the accomplishments made by disability rights organizers, and reflect on the work that is still to be done in our governments, medical systems, and businesses to improve accessibility and inclusivity for all.


As we shift into August, in the spirit of championing an inclusive and accessible era in the financial services industry and beyond, we wanted to share with you a few simple ways to ensure that a major component of your organization’s digital presence is accessible to those with disabilities. Despite ADA bylaws clearly stating that all electronic and information technology be accessible to users with disabilities, a whopping 98% of websites are not fully accessible (according to a 2022 study of over 10M web pages by AccessiBE.) While the rationale for compliance should simply be enhancing the accessibility of your content, there are legal reasons to ensure you are in compliance, with legal action on the rise against firms who fail to comply.


Noble Ark Ventures is a consulting firm and does not provide any specific legal or compliance advice. Therefore, while the following suggestions can provide a baseline for getting your firm on its way to becoming more accessible and inclusive, be sure to refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for more detailed information on the specific requirements. Keep in mind that according to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all public areas must accommodate people with disabilities. This includes your website. Here are a few key elements of compliance to keep in mind:


All images should have alternative text


Alternative text, or ‘alt text’ as it is commonly referred to, is the invisible description of images which are read aloud to visually impaired users on a screen reader. These descriptions should be accurate, concise and useful. Not only are these descriptions imperative to a disabled site visitor’s user experience, alt text is key to your site’s SEO. It provides search engines like Google with more contextual information to rank the site’s content with. Simply put, utilizing alt text will not only allow visually impaired users to explore your website, but will ensure that search engine crawlers will better understand its content as well. For real life applications of alt text, check out this article from ImageSEO.


All video content should have captions or a transcript


Closed captions or transcript files are an easy way to ensure that audio impaired users can enjoy your site’s video content. There are many ways to accomplish this, ranging from low-cost transcription services such as GoTranscript, Transcription-Hub, or TranscriptionPuppy, to completely free services as is the case with videos hosted on YouTube. In this case, simply click on the pencil icon next to your newly uploaded video in your YouTube Studio Dashboard and select automatic English subtitles.


Follow contrast guidelines


According to the WCAG, normal text (defined as 16px sized font), requires a contrast ratio of at least 4:5:1. Contrast ratio is simply the measurement of the visual difference between background and foreground colors, expressed mathematically. The WCAG Guidelines are designed to ensure that text can be zoomed to 200%, and that liquid layouts can accommodate 200% text.


Math aside, you simply need to know whether your color pairings pass or fail. There are a plethora of free tools available, such as Webaim, to ensure that your website’s design is meeting color contrast standards. Input your text color information (typically expressed in the form of a HEX triplet ex. #ff0000), as well as your primary background color and the site will generate an automatic pass or fail message based on updated WCAG standards.


Stay current!


Integrate an ADA update and site check into your quarterly compliance calendar to stay current on updated laws and regulations. You can access them here, at www.ada.gov. If you have a web vendor, ask for a written affirmation that your website is current and will remain so.



 

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