Original Publish Date: January 16, 2019
Having the perfect website for everyone is essential in today’s world. That’s why it’s important your website is up to par with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many property management companies are familiar with implementing critical accommodations that are necessary for tenants’ safety and well being like wheelchair accessible entrance and accessible parking spaces. However, property websites are subjected to the same ADA compliance standards and must make the website accessible for all audiences.
We explore 4 tips that can help your website adhere to ADA compliance. We also share four exciting new ADA compliance processes that Digible has rolled out to ensure that its customers don't discriminate and offer the best UX possible.
About 1 in 5 Americans have disabilities which means that there is no doubt that a potential renter with a disability is bound to interact with your website. It’s vital that the multifamily industry keep this in mind when constructing and remodeling a property’s website.
You might be wondering, what is the importance of ADA compliance on your site? Websites that are not accommodating to those with disabilities are in violation of the ADA Title II, III. It’s also equally important to note that Google rewards websites that provide accommodation for their disabled users. Complying with the ADA for your website not only allows it to be easily accessible to the disabled community, but also benefits the overall SEO of your property’s site as well.
So now what? How do you ensure that you’re doing the best to foster an inclusive website for potential renters and current residents? Lucky for you we have what you need to help your site achieve ADA web compliance.
Here are four easy steps that can help make your website more ADA compliant:
Colors and Design - While it may be tempting to include vibrant colors to the design of your property’s website, shifting to contrasting colors (i.e. black and white) is the best way to make sure most of your visitors can easily navigate through your site. Sticking to neutral, sleek, modern designs and colors can allow users to easily disguise between certain text and buttons and links on your site.
Functionality - Fluid functionality is crucial for your site’s content to be ADA compliant. This fluidity should allow your users the ability to navigate throughout the entire site with no use of their mouse. The easiest way to test this out is through keyboard navigation, as it’s one of the best ways to imitate how most assistive devices will interpret sites. Use the tab key to maneuver throughout one of your sites to ensure that the page and content flow smoothly.
Image - Placing assigned alternative text (alt text) to the images on you site is essential. It’s also critical that the alt text description be as clear as possible for users. Let’s say that you are creating the alt text for an image of a one bedroom apartment floor plan, instead of naming it “image1234.jpg” go for something more descriptive like, “one bedroom floor plan legacy apartments.” Well described alt text will help users understand the image if it is unable to load or if someone using an assistive device is browsing your website. This is an extremely important component for the multifamily industry, as these alt tags can help provide potential residents with a clear idea of what your property has to offer.
Video - While videos are a perfect way to get your users engaged and stay even longer on your site, it’s necessary to guarantee that your site’s videos cater to those with audio and visual impairments. This includes making sure that every video’s sound is clear and providing users with a transcript or captions within the video. Not only can this tip contribute to your site’s ADA compliance, but it will also enhance a user’s experience and perception of your site.
While there are plenty of tools that can provide better context regarding a site's ADA errors, alerts, and contrast issues, there are also a few ways to manually check a site for ADA compliance. Below are two ways that anyone can manually check a site for ADA compliance.
Test That The Site Doesn’t Break When Zoomed In
In some circumstances, users may increase the zoom size of a site up to 400% or 500% to see the page easier. It is important that the template does not break if a user were to zoom in this far. To test that this scenario, blow up the website to see if the formatting or page layout messes up which could result in the columns or texts overlapping. If you zoom in and nothing breaks then you are good to go!
Test That The Site’s Functionality Works
Fluid functionality is crucial for your site’s content to be ADA compliant. This fluidity should allow your users the ability to navigate throughout the entire site with no use of their mouse. The easiest way to test this out is through keyboard navigation, as it’s one of the best ways to imitate how most assistive devices will interpret sites. Use the tab key to maneuver throughout one of your pages to ensure that the user can navigate through the content smoothly.
These are two relatively easy manual tests anyone can do on any website to test the most basic levels of ADA compliance.
Google is committed to making the web accessible to everyone - this means that UX and ADA play a major role in SEO rankings. After analyzing the SEO impact from ADA improvements, we have decided to incorporate ADA as a part of our SEO strategy. Some of the exciting ways we are staying at the forefront of ADA compliance are:
Web Accessibility Evaluation - We use WebAIM’s WAVE tool, which is an industry expert in ADA information. WAVE allows us to scan upto 25 pages of your website and generates page-specific accessibility details which contain Errors, Issues and Contrast Issues.
Human evaluation of web content - ADA audit requires thorough analysis of web content which can currently only be done with a mix of using an automated tool like WAVE, along with manually evaluating the website to determine which issues are actual errors.
ADA tasks timeline - Once a list of all active tasks are compiled, Digible can then determine the tasks to either have it performed in-house or if we would need the property management company to address it with their developers. This will allow us to create a timeline which will reflect the expected completion dates to ensure ADA compliance.
Baseline and Quarterly progress reporting - We thoroughly pull data throughout the process. The initial evaluation will establish a baseline on how your website’s ADA compliance looked. Digible will rescan the sites every quarter and share our progress that we have made in just 3 months.
Failing to follow the tips above can negatively affect your site’s SEO, usability, and turn away potential renters. Not only can these tips help improve your site’s ADA compliance, but they will also help create the perfect site for your property!