Most people know of the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed in 1990, which paved the way for people with disabilities to have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities so they have equal opportunities to public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. Today, the ADA law is taking on a new meaning with our evolving technology.
In 2016, Guillermo Robles filed a lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza based on allegations that the website was inaccessible to blind persons. Robles had tried to place an order online with his assistive technology, but was unable to do so. Three years later, the Supreme Court sided with Robles and the ruling became the first time that the ADA civil rights law was applied to a business’ website or mobile app. Hundreds of other lawsuits were filed afterwards, all of them similar cases in which Americans were discriminated against based on their disabilities.
How many people in the U.S. are living with disabilities?
It would seem that many people are not aware of the large number of Americans who are currently living with a disability.
- 61 million adults living in the United States have a disability, which is 26% of the total population
- 5 million Americans have some sort of hearing impairment, ranging from difficulty hearing to complete loss of hearing
- 12 million people aged 40 and up have a vision impairment, of which 3 million of those are completely blind
- 39 million Americans have some sort of motor impairment, with physical disabilities being the most common
- 8% of American adults have some sort of cognitive impairment, which causes difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Disabilities are most common in adults 65 years and older, women, Non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- 2 in 5 adults aged 65 years or older have a disability
- 1 in 4 women have a disability
- 2 in 5 Non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives have a disability
These numbers can be expected to increase as Gen X moves closer to retirement age. It is crucial that business owners and advertisers take preventative action now to update their digital advertising. ADA compliance for websites, social media, email marketing, and other forms of digital advertising is still relatively new. However, tech giants like Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), and YouTube are making changes that will help marketers include persons who have disabilities.
With all forms of digital advertising, it is important to make sure everything is accessible for people with all four types of disabilities: visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive.
Here are our recommendations and tips for including ADA compliance standards in your digital advertising.
Proper accessibility covers everything on your website: menu structure, background images, file format, submission forms, links, eCommerce features and more. Avoid pop-ups, audio that plays automatically, or other special effects that interrupt the website page. These items can disrupt the assistive technology that disabled persons use to understand what is on the website page.
Don’t get too fancy with your website design either. The navigation bar needs to be clear, concise, and organized for assistive technology to be able to identify and translate it. Sticking to a standardized layout will allow your customers to easily find your information on your website, save on expenses, and make it easier to update in the long run. If a user can’t navigate your website using only a keyboard, then you need to make changes to your website.
Your cool brand fonts may look great, but if they are too complex, then assistive technology will not be able to properly translate or navigate around them. Try to stick to a font that is more common and easier to read. There are plenty of options to choose from that can still make your business stand out without causing issues for assistive technology.
Colors also play an important role. Having too many bright colors or too many dull colors can make it harder for assistive technology and disabled persons to identify your brand and relevant CTAs. Inconsistent coloring can be confusing as well. Make sure you define which colors will be used for text, headlines, CTAs, and backgrounds so it is consistent in all brand advertising.
Alt tags or alt text is what describes the image to assistive technology and if the image is unable to load, it informs any user what the image is supposed to be. Always include “alt” tags on media files, maps, images, and wherever else it is available to add. Not only does this help with meeting ADA best practices, it is a great addition for SEO rankings too.
For video advertising, you should always include audio and on-screen closed captioning (subtitles). No matter how long or short your video is, or if it is on your website, Facebook, TikTok, or YouTube channel. Wherever you can, include the video title, descriptive caption, and the option to play the video. You never want the video to automatically play because this disrupts assistive technology. On some platforms like TikTok, this is more difficult to navigate because TikTok automatically plays all videos. For platforms where you can control it, try to avoid having videos that automatically play.
Make sure to format your blogs with proper headings for each section of information. If the headings are not properly set, assistive technology will default to reading every individual word. Properly set headings help users skip to the information they are most interested in. Clear and descriptive headings can help assistive technology skip over sections of text; it is very similar to how sighted people skim through headlines.
We Are Here To Help With ADA Compliance Advertising
Our technological and social worlds are evolving fast. While the tips and recommendations we give are for best practices today, they will likely change in the upcoming future. At Walker360, you can trust our marketing experts to stay up to date on the latest trends. Whether you want an ADA compliance strategy for your business or for us to rebuild everything from the ground up, we are here to help. Contact us today to get a free quote!
Disclaimer: this is not legal advice nor guarantee of compliance. Please consult with an attorney for a full explanation of the law.