General rules to ensure your site is always up to digital accessibility standard

Published May 31, 2024

Question: What's the best method of building a website to future-proof it against Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues moving forward?

With so many moving parts and new developments, things are constantly changing and adapting with accessibility standards. Even with a lot of change, some things stay the same.

There are timeless features that your website’s display can have to keep it up to standard. Below you will see a few feature items to have to ensure your site is compliant.

Use clear language across your site

From the mission statement to alternative text, all wording on your site should be clear, concise, and to the point. According to the CDC, 10.9% of U.S. adults have a cognition disability with serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.

All images on a website should have descriptive and meaningful alt text to be read by screen readers so screen reader users living with visual impairments can have an understanding of the image. Statistics show that 4.9% of U.S. adults have blindness or serious difficulty seeing. Keep alt text simple, concise, and image-focused. 

This clarity should also extend to links. Use call-to-action phrases when labeling links (as opposed to vague phrases like “click here”) to let the user know where the link will take them and the action expected. 

Closed captioning for all videos 

Another part of your site that should be clear is closed captioning. Considering that 5.7% of U.S. adults have deafness or serious difficulty hearing, closed captioning is necessary if your website has video elements. Unlike subtitles, captions run in tandem with video and goes beyond including speech to include noises (i.e.,; a knock at the door, the sound of whistling, etc.).

Make sure text is easy to read

Keep users with low vision in mind, and ensure text is easy to see and read. Stick with simple sans serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana in size 12 or higher.

Appropriate color contrast levels

While the ideal contrast is black text on a white background, it makes sense to add color to be cohesive with branding and add spark to a website. The contrast level must be at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for larger text you can always use a contrast checker to be sure.

Another rule of thumb is to avoid the following color combinations since they are hard to read and can cause issues for those with visual impairments or color blindness.

  • Red and green
  • Green and brown
  • Green and blue
  • Blue and gray
  • Blue and purple
  • Green and gray
  • Green and black

Accessible via keyboard navigation

Users who have Braille keyboards and those with motor disabilities use keyboards to navigate websites instead of a mouse. Voice recognition software and screen readers also depend on keyboard accessibility.

Adding a keyboard navigation option ensures those users can navigate your site with ease.

Allow a customizable experience 

Users should be able to customize their interaction with your site, this allows for ease of access and comfort. Offer an alternative style sheet so users can change font sizes, zoom in and out, or whatever needs to be done, without breaking the page layout. Users should be able to enlarge text up to 200% without impacting usability. 


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