Menu
Back
ADA Compliance: A Legal Requirement Ensures Accessible Ecommerce Sites for All

ADA Compliance

Failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can create many issues for online merchants. Avoid any negative consequences and get informed on how to ensure your website is accessible to all.
DISCLAIMER:

ADA compliance is an additional deliverable, formalized by a separately executed service agreement. OSF provides this webpage as a service only. OSF is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within this website.
While the information contained within this webpage is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided is correct, complete, and up to date.

Since 2010, it has been mandatory for ecommerce merchants located in the United States to ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) created the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which details the rules that must be followed to ensure compliance with these standards. All websites that present content online must meet the accessibility standards set for internet users with disabilities, including those who are visual or hearing impaired or who require specific materials to navigate their online experience.

Any ecommerce site regardless of its location that sells products in the United States is subject to this regulation. These standards exist in many countries, but compliance is mandatory in the United States. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in prosecution. A fine may also be imposed for companies who do not meet the minimum level of accessibility required.

Three levels of compliance have been established by the World Wide Web (W3C) standardization consortium, A, AA and AAA, the latter being the most demanding in terms of its requirements.

Navigation and display prerequisites

W3C has established several fundamental principles in what is known as the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These are:

  • perception, meaning that the information and all components of the user interface must be presented clearly to users,
  • navigation, indicating that users understand how to use the site and
  • robustness, speaking to how the site must be accessible to a maximum number of users.

Level A compliance comprises twelve rules that detail the minimum standard that are to be observed. Concretely, all elements of a page that can generate a user action, such as a click, must be clearly indicated and easy for a visitor to act upon. Page redirections must be indicated using pop-ups, and any suggestion for alternative text must result in helping the page be easier to read and help explain any non-text-based materials on the site such as audio or braille.

With regards to visuals, rules related to contrast and color must be respected, to differentiate what is clickable and what isn’t. Many technology-based tools exist that can help aid a disabled person to efficiently navigate a website including those which can help calculate the right contrast to help a visitor view a page.

Compliant code helps CSR

If companies wish to ensure compliance with the ADA, they should collaborate with a knowledgeable IT integrator who can audit their website and check the HTML files to see what modifications can be done. "It's our role to report when the design is not compliant. Presently we ensure all of our projects meet Level A compliance," says Benoît Crouzit, Business Analyst at OSF Digital.

From a legal standpoint, Level A compliance is enough to avoid sanctions, but it’s important to keep in mind that accessibility standards also help further a brand’s image. Also, compliance with this act can help the company obtain certification enhancing the company’s overall valuation because of its improved Corporate Social Responsibility.

Best Practices for ADA Compliance

  • The tab function must allow users to have access to every interactive element that appears on each page of the website in case the visitor isn’t able to use a mouse for example
  • Use alt text for each image on the page so users who can’t see very well have another method for understanding what is being conveyed by this visual
  • A difference in color alone can’t indicate that an element is clickable and will generate an action. It should also be underlined, bolded, or placed in a button
  • Avoid writing on a video background
  • A video should not be able to launch on its own and should not have sound turned on from the start
  • Controls for the video must be accessible, including pause, volume and subtitles
  • Video content must not contain three flashes in a row occurring in less than one second as this will reduce the risk of epileptic seizures
DISCLAIMER:

ADA compliance is an additional deliverable, formalized by a separately executed service agreement. OSF provides this webpage as a service only. OSF is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within this website.
While the information contained within this webpage is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided is correct, complete, and up to date.