How To Make A Website ADA Accessible - A Guide For Designers

How To Make A Website ADA Accessible: A Guide For Designers

The internet connects people from all walks of life. But what if those connections are broken for users with disabilities? The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) set standards for making websites accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.

As a designer, you have the power to create inclusive web experiences. This guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to build websites that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and user-friendly for everyone.

Why Does Website Accessibility Matter?

How To Make A Website ADA Accessible A Guide For Designers

Ensuring website accessibility goes beyond just following regulations. Here’s why it truly matters:

Equal Access

The internet is a vast resource for information and connection. Everyone deserves equal access to this valuable tool.

Wider Audience

By making your website accessible, you reach a broader audience, which can benefit your business or organization.

Improved Usability

Many accessibility features benefit all users, not just those with disabilities. Think clear navigation and keyboard controls—everyone wins!

By prioritizing ADA website compliance, you create a more inclusive and effective online presence.

Understanding WCAG Guidelines

WCAG outlines four core principles for web accessibility: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR). The following sections will discuss these core principles in-depth, but here’s a quick rundown:

  • Perceivable: Make content accessible through various sensory channels.
  • Operable: Ensure users can navigate and interact with the site using different input methods.
  • Understandable: Present content in a clear and simple manner.
  • Robust: Ensure compatibility with current and future assistive technologies.

Adhering to these principles makes your website ADA compliant. This ensures an accessible website for all users, providing a better overall user experience.

Making Your Website Perceivable

Ensuring your website is perceivable is fundamental to making it accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Focus on these key areas:

Alternative Text (Alt Text)

Don’t underestimate the power of alt text! Describe images and non-text content clearly and concisely using alt tags. This is essential for screen reader users who rely on text descriptions.

Color Contrast

Ensure sufficient color contrast between text and background colors. Contrast checker tools can help you achieve the recommended contrast ratios for good readability.

Text Formatting

Use clear and consistent font styles and sizes. Bold important text for emphasis, but avoid relying solely on color for differentiation. Proper heading structures improve readability and navigation for screen reader users.

By implementing these strategies, you enhance the accessibility of your website, making it more inclusive and user-friendly for everyone.

Ensuring Your Website is Operable

Making sure your website is operable ensures that all users, including those with disabilities, can navigate and interact with your content effectively. Here’s how:

Keyboard Navigation

Make sure all interactive elements on your website, like buttons, links, and forms, can be accessed and operated using just the keyboard. This is crucial for users who rely on assistive technologies like screen readers.

Focus Indicators

When a user navigates your website with a keyboard, clear focus indicators show which element is currently in focus. This helps users understand where their interactions will take place.

Time-Based Interactions

Avoid using content that relies solely on time-based interactions, like blinking text or disappearing menus. Provide alternative ways for users to access this information.

Ensuring operability creates a more inclusive environment, allowing everyone to use your website with ease.

Building an Understandable Website

Creating an understandable website ensures that all users can comprehend and engage with your content effortlessly. Essential considerations include:

Plain Language

Write clear and concise content that is easy to understand by everyone. Avoid technical jargon and complex sentence structures.


If you do use technical terms, provide clear definitions within the context of your content.


Make instructions for forms and interactive elements clear and easy to follow.

By focusing on understandability, you make your website more accessible for a diverse audience.

Creating a Robust Website

To ensure your website remains accessible and functional for all users, it’s essential to focus on robustness. Important steps include:

Assistive Technologies

Test your website with various assistive technologies like screen readers and keyboard emulators. This helps identify and address any accessibility issues.

WCAG Compliance Validation Tools

Several online tools can help you check your website’s WCAG compliance. Use these tools to identify areas for improvement.

Regular Maintenance

Accessibility is an ongoing process. As your website evolves, stay vigilant about maintaining its accessibility features.

Building a robust website ensures long-term accessibility and usability for all visitors.

Beyond the Basics: Going the Extra Mile for Accessibility

While WCAG compliance is a significant step, going beyond the basics can create a truly inclusive web experience. Consider these additional measures:

Closed Captions and Transcripts

Provide closed captions for videos and transcripts for audio content. This benefits users who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as those who prefer to consume content visually.

Focus on User Experience (UX)

Good accessibility practices often align with good UX principles. Clear navigation, intuitive layouts, and responsive design benefit all users.

Accessibility Statement

Publish an accessibility statement on your website. This statement outlines your commitment to accessibility and explains how users can provide feedback on accessibility issues.

By implementing these additional measures, you can enhance the inclusivity and user-friendliness of your website, making it welcoming for everyone.

The Takeaway

By following these guidelines, you can design and develop websites that are accessible to everyone. Remember, accessibility is not just about checking boxes; it’s about creating a web experience that is inclusive and user-friendly for all. As you embrace accessibility best practices, you’ll be contributing to a more connected and equitable digital world.

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