Whether you’re looking to update your existing website or create a brand-new one that everyone can access — and follows website compliance standards — you will hear several different acronyms.
The most common include WCAG and ADA.
Are you ready to learn more about these website compliance standards? Keep reading for a complete breakdown between ADA vs. WCAG. Plus, determine if they apply to your business and how to get started if they do.
What is ADA Compliance?
ADA compliance refers to meeting the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. This act covers the accessibility of electronic and information technology, like the Internet and its websites, versus physical locations.
What is WCAG Compliance?
Launched in 2008, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) describe a series of standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG gives companies an actionable guide and resource for making a website accessible to users with disabilities.
WCAG includes three compliance tiers:
- · Level A: A site that some users can access.
- · Level AA: A site that almost all users can access.
- · Level AAA: A site that all users can access.
Recognized as an ISO standard, WCAG is the go-to resource for website accessibility.
Who do ADA and WCAG affect?
Does ADA or WCAG affect your organization?
Organizations that need to adhere to ADA requirements include:
- · State and local government agencies
- · Private employers with 15 or more employees
- · Businesses that operate for the benefit of the public
Since ADA encompasses electronic and information technology, like the Internet and the websites on it, ADA compliance impacts almost all businesses and webmasters.
In most cases, sites (and their designs) aren’t ignoring ADA requirements intentionally.
Even if ADA compliance doesn’t apply to you, it’s still important to create a site that everyone can use.
WCAG does not operate as a law or regulatory body, so businesses do not need to develop a compliance plan for WCAG. Instead, they can use WCAG as a guide or checklist when working toward ADA compliance.
What happens if my website isn’t compliant?
If your website isn’t ADA accessible, you are liable.
A lawsuit, for example, could be filed against your company if people with disabilities cannot access or use your site. Even if your business didn’t intend to discriminate or exclude people with disabilities from visiting or using your website, you could pay thousands of dollars in lawsuits.
That’s why getting answers to the following questions matters:
- · What is ADA compliance on websites?
- · Who does ADA compliance affect?
- · How do you become ADA-compliant?
Even though the U.S. Department of Justice hasn’t released official ADA compliance guidelines, it has provided recommendations.
Your company wants (and needs) to use these recommendations to start making your site and user experience ADA-compliant.
How can I achieve ADA compliance for my website?
When making your website ADA compliant, the go-to recommendation revolves around the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. This resource outlines several recommendations or goals for making your website ADA accessible to users across the U.S.
The core principles that guide WCAG include:
- Perceivable: You want users to be able to perceive all the information that appears on your site, like text, images, video, and more. Even if a user can’t see your website’s text or listen to your website’s video, you need to provide an alternative.
- Operable: You want users to have the capability to navigate your site and use all its features. Any user, for example, should have the means to use your main navigation, as well as any site tools, like calculators.
- Understandable: You want users to have the means to understand your website content. Users can understand your site’s text, images, videos, and tools. For example, your site may include instructions for using a feature, like a calculator or a contact form.
- Robust: You want users to have the ability to receive the same experience, even if using assistive technologies.
For many companies, especially small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs), it’s overwhelming. Our experienced and in-house team of designers and developers, however, can help.
If you have a WordPress website, you can also install an ADA compliance plugin to streamline the compliance process.