Twenty-six years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was written into law. With the passage of this historic legislation, our nation declared its commitment to equal opportunity for those with physical and cognitive disabilities. The ADA has played a critical role in reducing barriers to access, including technological barriers online. Proving accommodations for a population that often relies heavily on technology to access and engage with information is an important yet sometimes overlooked provision of the law. Developing websites and mobile applications for those who require adaptive technology is critical, not only for commercial, academic, and government sectors, but for the modern law practice as well.
Designing ADA-complaint websites is an important way of accommodating those who access online content through non-traditional means. Building your website with accessibility principles in mind ensures that all visitors to your site, including potential clients, can interact with the information you provide. Developing a web design strategy that incorporates multiple options for conveying information (via text, images, audio/video, and color) is key. Visual elements should be captioned, buttons should be large, and menus should be easy to access. And these are just a few of the design features to consider. Others are described at the links below:
Using the best practices described at the sites above, your website can be user-friendly not only for your traditional clients, but also for those who access content in less traditional ways, using text readers, keyboard navigation, joysticks, trackballs, touchscreens, and other assistive devices. As an added benefit, accessible design also improves search engine optimization (SEO), raising the discoverability of your website and the usability of its content. These are all worthwhile goals, but they also ensure your compliance with ADA requirements. Thanks to the American’s with Disabilities Act, equal access is the law, and during the 26 years since its passage, the ADA has evolved to embrace the continually changing needs of information consumers -- regardless of ability -- in the digital age.