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ADA Website Checklist

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Review your website for ADA compliance by completing the following checklist. To be fully compliant, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) A and AA standards must be met.

Level A Compliance

Level A items comprise basic guidelines for website accessibility:

Level A Checklist:

Alternate text tags allow users to interpret page content without seeing images.

Text captions are an important alternative to audio and allow the hearing impaired to use content.

Like captions, a text description can also communicate what a video or audio clip is about. This can be in the form of a paragraph around the video.

If a media player like Flash Player is needed to use content, there should be a link to where the software can be downloaded.

Main headings (h1) come before smaller subheadings (h2, h3 and so on).

"Strong" and "emphasis" tags can specify more than just visual changes like "bold" and "italics" to web browsers.

Empty links and headings make for sloppy code and can confuse users of screen reading software.

Presentation that relies solely on color is inaccessible to the visually impaired. Information should be conveyed using broad, easily-interpreted techniques.

It is strongly recommended that audio does not play automatically. However, if audio plays, a keyboard user should be able to stop it.

Keyboard access is crucial for visually-impaired users. The keyboard should be capable of meeting all functionality on the site.

When proceeding through a website using the keyboard, keyboard focus should not get locked to any position. Focus should keep moving with each tap.

If a user has limited time to do something, they should be warned before time expires. This can be in the form of a pop-up or other notification.

Any page element that automatically moves or changes should be able to be stopped in a certain position.

Flashing colors are generally considered to be bad practice as they are very disruptive, especially for users with epilepsy.

"Skip to content" functionality is often accessed with the Tab key and allows a user to skip to the main body of a page. Especially useful with screen reading software, it ensures the user does not have to move keyboard focus through the full length of every page.

Page titles usually appear in the top of the browser window and communicate the main idea of a page. They should be of reasonable length, closer to a sentence or less rather than a paragraph of text.

Buttons and links are "action items" the user can interact with, causing something to happen. The action that occurs should be predictable, clearly communicated, and never a surprise.

Language code in the header of each page marks what language the code is written and meant to be read in.

Sometimes, keyboard focus changes the appearance of a page element. For example, hovering a mouse over a link might change the link's text color, or giving an element keyboard focus might make it larger. This change should not significantly affect the layout or readability of the page.

If the user enters invalid information into a form control, they should be notified of the issue. For example, when filling out an email address form, an email address must be entered. If an invalid email address is entered, the user should know of the problem.

Every form input should have a label to describe what type of information should be entered into it. Additionally, a legend can be used to group multiple form inputs.

The website passes W3C HTML validation with no major problems.

Level AA Compliance

Level AA is the second level necessary for full ADA compliance and is more advanced than Level A compliance:

Level AA Checklist:

Live streaming video or audio is accompanied by captions or ongoing text descriptions.

Color contrast between readable and background elements should be sufficient for reading. This is a core design element that matters for everyone, especially the visually impaired.

When zooming in on a page and enlarging text, page elements must accommodate the new sizing. Text resizing cannot drastically change page layout or negatively affect usability.

Text is highly accessible and should be used whenever text can successfully communicate an idea. Images should only be used where necessary.

A user looking for a page should be able to find that page in more ways than one. For example, the navigation bar, site map, and search function can all move users through the site.

As keyboard focus moves down the page, highlighted elements should appear noticeable enough such that the user knows where they are focused.

Any section of a page presented in a language other than the site's primary language should identify the language of that section.

Menus and buttons should appear with the same presentation and order regardless of where the user is on the site. This consistency is especially critical for main navigation areas.

Form input errors the user receives should be shown with a useful suggestion on how to resolve the error.

Forms transmitting sensitive information such as financial or legal data should have some degree of error prevention. This means either: the form submission can be reversed; data is checked and returned to the user if anything is found to be invalid; or a final confirmation is offered.

Underlined text universally suggests "this is a link." Therefore, underlined text that does not link is misleading and should be removed. Italics can be a great alternative.

Multiple links to the same location from the same page make screen reading software read the links multiple times. Often a page can be restructured such that a link is not needed more than once.

Further Reading


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