5 Most Overlooked Website Compliance Issues

Nov 3, 2016 by Jared Starner

We hear it all the time, “Yeah – I’m pretty sure our website is ADA compliant.”  Are you really, we mean really, sure? 

There are many pitfalls that can cause a website to be less than accessible for some impaired users. Below are the most common, (and easy to assess), issues that prevent many websites from being compliant.

1 - Sizing

Dictating font/image/panel sizes is a common industry norm; webpage designers and other front-end developers use aesthetic preferences and generally want everyone who views the webpage to see things at the same size. Problems may then occur for people who, because of their disability, access a webpage differently than most people. It may be that a person is utilizing a screen magnifier or some other program to assist them while visiting a website. When sizes are forced and impossible to change, proper viewing of an image or copy within context may become impossible.

2 - Colorization

Similarly, as with sizing of elements on a page, forcing specific colors can also impact a disabled person’s ability to properly interact with webpage content. Many people with low vision use specific colors and specialized font settings when accessing the web. High-contrast settings can also be a necessity for those with color-blindness. Alternatively, those who are sensitive to bright or changing colors, such as a person with epilepsy, may require more neutral colors. Allowing the colors and fonts to be adjusted by the user can help assistive programs play nice with your content.

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3 - Navigation

Ok, this is a big one. Navigation across webpages can take many forms, too many to talk about here. Disabled persons have more access now than ever before for interacting with web pages. Some may use voice dictation to move across the screen, others may use the keyboard and not have the ability to control a mouse. Still others may have a touch-only interface. There are many ways to enable a website to work well with these different types of access. One thing the ADA suggests is the inclusion of “skip navigation” links along the top of webpages – these links allow people with screen readers to go directly to certain webpage content (think of a top-level table of contents).

4 - Compatibility

On your website, how does a screen reader interact with an image – or with a video? What happens if a program that provides disability access doesn’t play nice with JavaScript? Or with Flash? Or your homebrewed fork of [insert desired programming language here]? What if a user needs to access your site using Windows 98!?

5 - HTML and Styling

This piece can be a little more convoluted, but is still incredibly important. The way your website loads generally prioritizes speed for the average user. This approach may unfortunately find itself at odds with the ADA and at the expense of compatibility with disability access programs. Additionally, advertising elements or other interactive materials may include blinking, flashing, or other distracting features – efforts should also be made here to improve not just the speeds and load times, but also the needs of disabled users. Allowing for the pausing or stopping of specific elements is a nice start to prevent future issues.

Curious to see if your website or app is ADA ready?  We’ve built a fancy little quiz to tell you.  Take our HMB Compliance Grader and see how you score in less than 2 minutes.  


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