What You Need to Know About Website Accessibility and ADA Compliance


ADA Compliance

I recently had a listener share a story about someone they knew who faced a lawsuit due to their website not meeting ADA compliance standards. It quickly reminded me of how crucial it is for all business owners to ensure their websites are accessible to everyone. 

This listener story is why I’ll be breaking down exactly what ADA compliance is and practical tips on how to make your website accessible. While achieving 100% ADA compliance may be a challenge, every step you take toward accessibility makes your content more inclusive and helps you reach a wider audience.

Add this to the long list of things we must be aware of as teacher sellers, right? Be sure to check the links below to learn the official ADA guidelines, how to check your website for compliance, and more!

01:56 What is ADA compliance and why is it so important?

04:42 How you can check to see if your website meets ADA compliance requirements

08:07 – Two reasons why you need to be using a text alternative for all of your images

11:34 – Avoiding automatic media play on your website

Hey TPT sellers ready to see growth in your business? You’re in the right place. Welcome to The Savvy Teacher Seller. I’m Kristen Doyle. And I’m here to give you no fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sales. Let’s get started y’all.

Hey, y’all. And welcome back to another episode of the savvy teacher seller. I’m your host, Kristen Doyle. And today we are talking about something that is often forgotten about but so very important. And that is making sure your website is accessible.

Today’s episode comes at a listeners recommendation. Actually, she reached out to me a couple of weeks back to share a story about someone she knew, who’d recently dealt with a lawsuit due to their website not being ADA compliant. And that just reminded me of how important this is and that it’s something a lot of us may not even think about.

So today, I wanted to share some basic steps that you should take as a business owner with a website toward keeping your website accessible for everybody. Before we get into any of this, I want to remind you of something I know you already know, I am not an attorney. So nothing in here should be considered legal advice at all. I am just here today to give you some practical tips you can take toward making your website more accessible.

Now, as a web designer, of course, I do my best to build sites as compliant as possible. But it’s also important for all of us to know and understand website accessibility because it’s something that we have to continue thinking about on an ongoing basis as we add blog posts or pages or other content to our websites. I know it might sound a little bit intimidating, but by the end of this episode, you’ll have a clearer understanding of some basic steps you can take to make your website more accessible and why that is so important for our businesses.

Let’s start with the big question. What on earth is ADA compliance anyway? As teachers, we should all be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA that was passed in 1990. Now initially, this focused mostly on physical accessibility. So things like wheelchair ramps, wide enough doorways for wheelchairs and scooters to get through, braille on signs, that sort of thing.

But as more and more things have moved online, it’s been expanded to also cover digital accessibility as well. In the context of your website, ADA compliance means making sure that your site is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, such as vision impairment, hearing disabilities, cognitive limitations, anything along those lines.

Now before we get too far into this, I do want to give you a little bit of a reality check. A 100% ad a compliant website is almost impossible to achieve. It basically would require one of two things, either a fully custom coded website, and note that that is not the same thing as a custom WordPress site that we’re talking about a fully custom site that is not built on Squarespace or WordPress, or Blogger or any platform but fully custom from the ground up.

Which is, of course, very expensive and time consuming. Or the alternative is investing in pricey subscription services that take care of the accessibility for you. Either way, with so many different devices and browsers and user individual settings and different people’s individual needs, it really is near impossible to be fully compliant. So before you start thinking, Well, why even bother? I want to remind you that just because we can’t get it perfect does not mean we shouldn’t do as much as we possibly can.

As teachers, we know how important it is to adapt our teaching to reach every student in our classrooms. Not one of us would balk at whatever is put in an IEP plan, we would make it happen in our classroom, even if it was difficult because we know how important that is. The same thing applies to our websites. Every step that we take toward ADA compliance makes your content on your website more accessible and more inclusive. And that’s so important, because it means you’re able to reach and help one more teacher with your content.

There’s also a very practical business side to this, taking the steps to improve accessibility can help you reach a wider audience. And from a business standpoint, it can also help you avoid some potential legal issues. There are people out there believe it or not, who are specifically searching for business owned websites that are out of compliance so that they can sue and you don’t want to be one of those people.

So what can we do about our websites? There are some free compliance checkers out there that you can run that will basically scan your website and let you know what parts of it are in compliance and what parts of it are not in compliance and I’ll drop the links to a couple of those in the shownotes that I’ve used and like, however, be aware that some of the things they asked you to fix will require custom code. And sometimes these things aren’t even possible depending on what platform you’re on.

What is more doable for most of us is to fix some of the top things, those things that really matter the most. These are things that aren’t too difficult to change out on your website, but they make a big, big difference for people who need that accessibility. I’m going to link the official ADA guidelines in the show notes. But each of the things that I’m about to talk about are some of the main points that they cover. And know those most important things we need to be doing for accessibility purposes.

The first thing I want to talk about is making sure that your fonts are easily readable. I know we all love our fancy fonts, and they look great in your logo. But the font you use on your website have to be readable. Above all else. A clear font makes sure that everyone including people with dyslexia or vision challenges can read your content.

So I would recommend that you use standard fonts like Roboto Poppins or lotto for the text that is on your website. And that includes the titles of pages and the headings and subheadings on your site as well. Save the cute fonts from your favorite TPT font creator, for your logo and your product covers and those sorts of things. And use those more standard fonts on your website.

Number two is to make sure that you have enough color contrast. Contrast refers to the difference between the color of the text or the icons, and the background color that that text or those icons are placed on. So this includes the background of your website, which is probably white with whatever text is on it, but also any big color blocks you might have on your homepage, and especially your buttons.

This tends to be a big issue with TPT sites specifically because our brand colors tend to use really bright colors, or sometimes pastel colors. And with those, it can be hard to get enough contrast between the text and the background. Color contrast is important because it helps users who have color blindness or any type of vision impairment, distinguish text from its background.

And let’s be honest, not having enough color contrast can make it hard for all of us to read the text that’s on the page. So you can use an online tool like the color contrast checker that I’m linking in the show notes to check and make sure that your text and background colors meet those minimum accessibility guidelines for the color contrast, pay special attention to the difference in font sizes, because what’s considered accessible at a really big font size or with bolded text is not accessible on smaller text.

And you’ve probably seen that in practice where something that you can read really well if you bold the font is hard to read if you don’t, one of the biggest issues I see with this tends to be buttons. So you want to pay special attention to that.

Number three is to make sure you are using a text alternative for all of your images. See visual content, like images is not accessible to everyone.

Users who are have visual impairments or those that are using screen readers for any reason, rely on the alt text to provide a verbal description of the image that’s on your page. Good news, that alt text is great for SEO as well. So you want to make sure to make your alt text descriptive, but concise. Instead of using just the file name of the image, something like image one dot jpg, use something like students collaborating on a science project.

I actually recommend that you do this when you’re naming your files as well. So instead of uploading a file named Image one, go ahead and name it students collaborating on a science project dot jpg, and upload it that way. If you are using rankmath on a WordPress website, you can actually set Rank Math up to automatically create alt text based on your image file name.

So if you name your images, right, which is good for SEO, then rankmath will pull that information and use it to create your alt text. And I will link an article in the show notes that walks you right through how to set that up. Number four is on a very related topic when it comes to your images don’t use images as a replacement for text. I know we can make such cute images in Canva or PowerPoint.

But screen readers cannot read the text in the images the same way that they read actual text. This means that users who rely on a screen reader would just miss that part of your content. And the same is true for search engines. So it’s not good for SEO either. Now, if you love creating that type of images, if you like the way they look on your website, that’s fine. Just use them sparingly and use them to enhance the content rather than to contain the main content of the page.

And if you are going to include text in an image, always, always provide that same information in a plain text format on your site. And remember to add good alt text to the image when you upload it. A good example of this that you can see right on my website on the podcast page is that I have the name of the podcast episode as part of the podcast cover image for each episode, however, the actual episode name is also printed in regular text immediately below that image. So it’s in there both ways. And that is perfectly fine. That is the right way to do this.

Number six is one that we don’t think about very often, but it is to make sure that your site is accessible by keyboard only. Some users particularly those with motor disabilities rely specifically on a keyboard to navigate around websites. You might have experienced a time when maybe your mouse died, and you needed to use a keyboard to get out of something. And it can be really tricky.

So I would recommend every now and then, just navigate through your website using only the tab and the enter keys. If there is a feature or a function, a clickable element that you can’t access when you tab through, then neither can your keyboard reliant users. And it’s important to fix thatt so that every piece of your website is accessible for them.

And number six, last but not least, is another one that’s good for everyone avoid automatic media play. Unexpected sound playing on a website can be jarring for all of us. Whether someone has auditory sensitivities, or they’re in a public space with no headphones. Make sure that you always have play and pause buttons on videos and you add captions or transcripts. YouTube and loom are great for videos because they will add the captions for you.

And embedding videos from one of those sites is better for your website speed than uploading it directly to your site anyway. So definitely look into embedding from a site like YouTube or loom as an alternative. And if you have a video that automatically begins playing, make sure that the sound is muted when that happens.

Alright, that wraps up our chat on ABA compliance and website accessibility. I know it’s a lot to take in. But remember, every step that you take makes a big difference for somebody who really needs your site to be more inclusive. And as teachers, we, above so many other groups of people, we know how important it is to be inclusive of all of our learners.

And that also goes to all of our audience members for our business. Your action step for today to head to your website and give it a once over with these tips in mind or use one of those accessibility checker tools. Chances are you’ll find at least a thing or two that needs to be made more accessible. So pick one to tackle this week.

If you need a suggestion for what to look at first, go check your color contrast. When you do I would love to hear about it. Share what you’re working on in our savvy teacher sellers Facebook group or tag me on social @kristendoyle.co. Thanks for listening to today’s episode. I hope that it’s helped give you some direction in these important steps that you can take to make your website more accessible for everyone. I’ll talk to you soon.

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, please share it with another teacher seller who would also find it helpful. For more resources on growing your TPT business. Head to kristendoyle.co/TPT. Talk to you soon.

Ready to see growth in your business? You’re in the right place.

I’m here to give you no-fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sales. We’re talking SEO, improving product listings, leveraging your website, and more. 

About Your Host

Your host, Kristen Doyle, has a decade of experience selling on TpT and has made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to! As a web designer and the go-to SEO expert in the TpT world, she loves helping TpT sellers stand out in the crowd & grow their businesses with passive income strategies.

Tune in to hear Kristen cover all aspects of running a TpT business – from leveraging SEO, to improving product listings, to effective TpT seller strategies for your store and website.

Want to DIY your website with guidance from a pro?