Importance of an ADA Compliant Manufacturing Website

Having an ADA compliant website is not only a step towards inclusivity, but also a necessity in today’s digital age where ensuring accessibility to all users - including those with disabilities - is crucial.

Here is an outline on the importance of ADA compliance and how you can attain an ADA compliant manufacturing website.

Introduction to ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that was enacted in 1990. It was designed to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, which includes jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places open to the general public.

While originally focused on physical accessibility, the scope of the ADA has expanded over time to include digital accessibility as well.

ADA compliant website

Understanding ADA Compliance for Manufacturing Websites

For manufacturers, the importance of an ADA-compliant website cannot be overstated.

With the increasing move towards digital platforms for business operations, like product catalogs and e-commerce, making sure that these digital resources are accessible to all users is not only a legal obligation, but also a moral and strategic business decision.

Digital accessibility under the ADA means that websites and online platforms should be accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. This includes ensuring that digital content is usable for those with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) refer to a set of recommendations for making web content accessible to people with disabilities.

While the ADA does not explicitly mention WCAG, these guidelines have become the standard for ADA compliance in terms of digital accessibility.

WCAG guidelines are organized around four principles, oftentimes referred to by the acronym POUR, which state that content must be:

  • Perceivable: All information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. In other words, users must be able to perceive the information that is being presented on your manufacturing website.
  • Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable. This principle ensures that users are able to efficiently operate your website.
  • Understandable: The information and the operation of the user interface must be understandable. Users must be able to quickly understand the information, as well as the operation of your website.
  • Robust: The content must be robust. What this means is the content on your website should be easily accessible as technologies advance.

Key Features of an ADA Compliant Website

keyboard navigation

Text Alternatives

Provide text alternatives for the non-text content that’s on your website, such as images and videos.

Keyboard Navigation

Make sure your manufacturing website can be navigated using a keyboard for those unable to use a mouse.

Accessible Forms

Design web forms that everyone can fill out. This means including clear error messages and labels.

Contrast & Color

It’s important that you use sufficient contrast. In addition to that, don’t rely on color alone for navigation or information.

Consistent, Predictable Layouts

Keep the layouts of your web pages consistent and predictable across your website.

Steps to Achieve ADA Compliance

Here are detailed steps that you can take to ensure your manufacturing website remains accessible and compliant with the ADA.

01) Conduct an Accessibility Audit

An accessibility audit is the first critical step in assessing how well your website complies with the ADA standards.

This process involves a thorough review of your website to identify any barriers that might prevent people with disabilities from fully accessing your content. You can perform this audit in several ways:

Automated Tools

Use automated testing tools that can quickly identify technical accessibility issues, such as missing alt text for images, lack of keyboard navigation or insufficient color contrast.

Manual Testing

Use manual testing techniques to check for nuances that automated tools might miss. This includes navigating your site using screen readers or other assistive technologies.

User Testing

Involve real users with disabilities in the testing process to get firsthand feedback on the usability of your website.

Manufacturer Website

02) Implement Changes Based on WCAG Guidelines

Once you have identified areas for improvement from your audit, the next step is to implement changes based on the WCAG guidelines.

Remember, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are organized under four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Here’s how you can approach these changes:

Perceivable

Make all information on your manufacturing website available to everyone's senses - your content cannot be invisible to all of the senses.

This could include adding text descriptions to the visual and audio content on your website or ensuring that your video content has subtitles.

Operable

Make sure that all users have the ability to interact with all controls, navigation and interactive elements on your website. It’s important that you do not require an interaction that a user cannot perform.

This might involve making all site functionality available from a keyboard or even providing sufficient time for users to read and use content.

Understandable

All information and the operation of your website must be understandable. With that being said, the content or operation cannot be beyond the user's understanding.

This means making sure the text is readable and predictable, while also ensuring that your web pages operate in predictable ways.

Robust

Your content must be robust enough to be interpreted reliably.

Technologies are continuously evolving. Therefore, it’s important that your content remains easily accessible.

This often involves following proper coding practices and ensuring compatibility with current and future tools.

03) Continuously Monitor & Update

Digital content is dynamic, with new content being added regularly and technology constantly evolving. As a result, ongoing monitoring and updates are essential.

If you want to maintain an ADA compliant website, implement these practices:

manufacturing website updates

Regular Reviews

Schedule reviews of your website regularly. That way, you can make sure your new content and features successfully meet accessibility standards. This is especially important after a major update or a complete redesign.

Stay Informed

Keep up-to-date with new developments in web accessibility standards. WCAG guidelines can update, meaning new best practices may emerge.

Training

Regularly train your web content creators and web developers on accessibility issues and best practices. In doing so, you can ensure that everyone contributes to maintaining an ADA compliant website.

Challenges in Achieving ADA Compliance

You may possibly experience some challenges, while attempting to achieve an ADA compliant manufacturing website.

Here’s a closer look at these challenges:

Resource Intensive

Time and expertise are both required to make a website ADA compliant.

Time

Making your website ADA compliant is not going to be a quick fix, but an ongoing process that requires a significant investment of time.

This includes conducting initial audits, implementing necessary changes and maintaining compliance with ongoing monitoring and updates.

For many manufacturers, especially small to medium-sized manufacturing businesses, finding the time to dedicate to these tasks can be a challenge. That’s why Driven Digital is here to help you.

Expertise

ADA compliance requires a specific set of skills and knowledge about both the legal requirements and the technical aspects of web development and accessibility.

The need for specialized knowledge can be a barrier for many manufacturers who may not have the in-house expertise that is necessary for such tasks. That’s why you need an agency who knows how to implement the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) effectively.

Website Speed

Evolving Standards

Keeping up with changing guidelines and technologies can be a challenge.

Keeping Up with Guidelines

Web accessibility guidelines, particularly the WCAG, are periodically updated to respond to new technologies and changes in the digital landscape. Each update can introduce new requirements or change existing criteria, which can make staying compliant a moving target.

For manufacturing businesses, this means continuously monitoring these changes and adapting accordingly, which can be both challenging and resource-intensive.

Technological Advances

As web technologies evolve, new challenges in accessibility arise.

Innovations in web design and interactive features can create new hurdles for accessibility, if they are not developed with compliance in mind.

Keeping up with these technological changes, while ensuring that new website features meet accessibility standards, requires both ongoing vigilance and a proactive approach to web development.

The Potential Risks of Non-Compliance

There are some potential risks associated with a non-compliant manufacturing website. These possible risks involve legal implications like:

  • lawsuits
  • financial penalties

Advantages of an ADA Compliant Manufacturing Website

ADA compliance will not only help make your website more accessible to people with disabilities, but it will also:

call to action

Ensure You Reach a Wider Audience

By making your manufacturing website accessible, you are not only catering to users with disabilities, but you are also reaching out to a wider audience.

This includes:

  • elderly users
  • users with temporary disabilities
  • users who are using mobile devices in various settings

An accessible website ensures that more people can use your site effectively, thereby increasing your potential customer base.

Improve Your Overall Site Usability

ADA compliance requires that websites be accessible to people with disabilities, which typically involves implementing features that also generally improve the site for all users.

Features that will improve your website for all users include:

  • clear navigation & labeling
  • keyboard navigation
  • accessible forms

Enhance the User Experience

ADA compliance encourages a user-centered design approach.

This approach essentially involves designing your manufacturing website with the user's needs foremost, which naturally leads to a better overall user experience.

Enhanced user experience can ultimately lead to increased user satisfaction, lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates.

Boost Your SEO Rankings

Many of the technical requirements for ADA compliance align with best practices for search engine optimization (SEO), such as:

  • adding alt text to images
  • making sure headers are used correctly
  • providing title tags
  • ensuring you have a responsive design

Search engines favor websites that are well-structured and accessible. These features are going to improve the experience for all users, which can ultimately lead to better search rankings.

SEO for Manufacturers

Reduce Usability Errors

Compliance with ADA standards often requires thorough testing and review of your website for accessibility issues.

This process can also help you identify usability issues on your website that might not be directly related to accessibility.

Correcting these issues as part of compliance efforts can lead to a smoother, more reliable user experience for all of your website visitors.

ADA Compliant Manufacturing Websites

Begin your journey towards successfully maintaining an ADA compliant website.

Consult with an expert to evaluate your manufacturing website’s accessibility.

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