2018 saw a record number of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits filed against restaurants, wineries and breweries. Although businesses have long been aware of how ADA affects their brick and mortar locations, they are largely unaware that this law also applies to their websites.
Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by people with disabilities. In the absence of guidelines from the Department of Justice, lawsuits have pointed to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as the standard for digital accessibility. While it may seem daunting to understand where to begin to ensure your website adheres to the guidelines, below is a list of action items that you can easily do to improve your site’s accessibility.
Call Your Web Developer
Ask your web developer what they are doing to adhere to WCAG guidelines. Designing and developing websites in accordance to the WCAG guidelines requires specialization and not all web developers build on certified accessible templates.
Add Alternative Text to Images
Add alternative text (alt-text) on all images you post. Alt-text provides better image context to visually impaired users. For example, instead of icon.png a more descriptive tag would be brewersassociationicon.png because it will describe to the website visitor what the image represents.
Call Your Third Party Sites
Ask your third-party sites like reservation, gift card and online ordering platforms whether or not they are following WCAG guidelines since this affects your site’s ability to adhere to ADA guidelines as well.
Add Descriptive Hyperlinks
Hyperlinks should describe the destination. So instead of, “click here” for more information on craft beer, a better and ADA-friendly link would be, “click here for more information on craft beer.”
If You Use PDFs Make Sure They Are Accessible
Using text throughout your website allows people with disabilities to access your site. If you have to use PDFs on your website they still need to be readable by screen readers. Click here for an overview on how to make a PDF accessible.