Navigating the Web with Inclusivity: Examining ADA Compliance in Websites

Navigating the Web with Inclusivity: Examining ADA Compliance in Websites

Sanja Kljaic
Sanja Kljaic
March 18, 2024
5 min read

In the digital age, the internet serves as a gateway to information, services, and opportunities. However, not everyone experiences the web in the same way. For individuals with disabilities, accessing and navigating websites can be a challenging task if those sites are not designed with inclusivity in mind. This is where ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance comes into play, ensuring that the digital landscape is accessible to everyone. In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of ADA compliance and explore how it can positively impact the online experience for users with disabilities.

Understanding ADA Compliance

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance refers to adherence to the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a U.S. law enacted in 1990. The ADA is designed to ensure equal opportunities and access for individuals with disabilities in various aspects of public life, including employment, public accommodations, transportation, and communications. While the ADA primarily focuses on physical spaces, the concept of ADA compliance has also extended to websites, applications, and other digital platforms. In 2022 and beyond, the commitment to inclusivity is not just a legal requirement but a demonstration of a brand’s dedication to providing a seamless online experience for everyone.

Failure to comply with ADA standards in the digital space can result in legal consequences for businesses and organizations (worth $20,000+ on average). Individuals with disabilities or advocacy groups may file lawsuits against entities that do not provide accessible online experiences. Some key points to consider include:

Lack of Accessible Features: If a website or application lacks accessible features and impedes individuals with disabilities from fully utilizing its services, it may be subject to legal action.

Discrimination Claims: Lawsuits may arise if individuals with disabilities feel discriminated against due to the inaccessibility of digital content or services.

Legal Precedents: Several high-profile lawsuits in recent years have set legal precedents, emphasizing the importance of digital accessibility. Businesses can be held liable if they do not take proactive steps to ensure their online presence is inclusive.

Navigating the Web with Inclusivity: Examining ADA Compliance in Websites
Working space – Image by pvproductions on Freepik

How to Make Your Website Accessible to People with Disabilities

A website that prioritizes ADA compliance goes beyond mere functionality; it ensures that all users, including those with disabilities, can access and interact with the content effectively. A good example of a website that prioritizes ADA compliance typically includes the following features: 

  1. Clear Navigation and Consistent Page Structure

Logical and consistent navigation structure makes it easy for users with screen readers or keyboard navigation to move through the website seamlessly. The website should have consistent headings and page structure that provide clarity about the content users can expect. 

Use appropriate HTML elements to structure content (e.g., <header>, <nav>, <main>, <footer>). Also, ensure proper use of headings (<h1> to <h6>) to convey document structure.

Use ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) roles and attributes to enhance the accessibility of dynamic content. Use ARIA landmarks (role=”navigation”, role=”main”, etc.) to identify and label page regions.

Include a “Skip to Content” link at the beginning of the page to allow users to bypass repetitive navigation elements.

  1. Readability and Text Alternatives

The website uses fonts that are easy to read, and the color contrast between text and background is sufficient. Aim for a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. This helps users with visual impairments or color blindness.  

Alternative text (alt text) is provided for images to describe their content or function for screen readers. If an image is purely decorative, use an empty alt attribute (alt=””).

  1. Keyboard Accessibility

The website can be navigated and all interactive elements (links, buttons, form fields) are accessible using only a keyboard. This is essential for users with motor disabilities who may not be able to use a mouse. Focus on indicators that clearly show which element is currently selected for users navigating with a keyboard. Maintain a logical tab order.

Navigating the Web with Inclusivity: Examining ADA Compliance in Websites
People working – Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
  1. Multimedia Accessibility

Providing transcripts for audio content accommodates users who may prefer or need to read the information rather than listen. Interactive components, such as sliders or carousels, should be designed to be navigable using a keyboard. Also, ensure that multimedia content can be paused, stopped, or adjusted using keyboard controls.

  1. Forms and Interactive Elements

Forms are designed to be accessible, with clear labels, proper input fields, and logical tab order. Associate form labels with their respective input fields using the <label> element. This benefits users who rely on screen readers or keyboard navigation. Provide additional instructions and feedback for form validation. Use visible and clear focus styles for focused elements. Avoid relying solely on color to convey information.

  1. Responsive Design

The website is designed to be responsive and accessible on various devices, ensuring a positive experience for users who may access the site using smartphones or tablets.

  1. Accessible Documents and PDFs

Accessible PDFs and documents have proper headings, alt text, and other elements necessary for screen reader compatibility.

  1. Focus on Inclusive Design

Think about users with various disabilities during the design and development process. Regularly test the website with accessibility tools and perform manual testing with assistive technologies. Also, conduct usability testing with individuals who have disabilities. That should help you to identify and address potential issues. 

Remember that ADA compliance is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to stay informed about accessibility standards and update your website accordingly. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide detailed guidelines that many organizations follow to achieve and maintain accessibility standards. It is good to consult the latest WCAG guidelines and any applicable local regulations for the most up-to-date information on web accessibility.


ADA compliance in the digital space focuses on ensuring that websites and online platforms are accessible to individuals with disabilities, promoting inclusivity and equal access to information and services. It is an important consideration for businesses and organizations to address the diverse needs of their user base.

Regularly reviewing and updating digital properties to meet ADA standards is essential to mitigate the risk of legal challenges and to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, can access and benefit from online offerings. Embrace responsible and transparent practices in the ever-evolving digital landscape because the spotlight on ADA compliance and data privacy is here to stay. If you are ready to transform your website to be more accessible to a broader audience, let us know!

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