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What you need to know about ADA compliance

5/15/17

Deadline for complying with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website accessibility regulations is looming. Bank websites that violate them could face lawsuits and other penalties.

Is your website compliant?

What is ADA compliance for websites?

“ADA website compliance” is an umbrella term that has come to encompass regulations detailed in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as the Web Accessibility Initiative’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which serve as the website accessibility standards for most legislation.

These regulations ensure that people with disabilities can access and engage in online services in the federal government sector. Because many people with disabilities use assistive technology to help them use computers, such as screen readers and voice-command software, websites must be designed in such a way that they do not require people to see, hear or use a standard mouse to access information and act on it.

Web accessibility has always been a key component of the best bank website designs. Reaching your customers — wherever they are, whichever device their using and whatever their abilities — makes a lot of business sense. It’s just good customer service.

But now, because of recent revisions to the ADA regulations, banks will soon be required to provide websites that satisfy ADA compliance for their customers.

ADA compliance website checklist

ADA compliance addresses common problems people with disabilities face while navigating websites. Here are a handful of tips for making your bank website accessible:

  • Design for keyboard-only input — Because not every visitor to your website uses a mouse, all tools and applications must be usable through a keyboard (and shortcut keys) alone. This includes your website’s navigation.
  • Eliminate keyboard traps — A keyboard trap is any scenario where a person using a keyboard cannot escape from an interactive element. One example is a web form that doesn’t allow the user to “tab out” of the form.
  • Make sure all form fields have labels — Every input field of every form must have a visual label associated with it so that screen readers can speak the correct label in association with the input field. If the form uses asterisks or any other qualifiers, the symbol must be explained.
  • Tag all media — Since a screen reader cannot describe images, be sure to include appropriate captions and alt text (hidden text that describes visual elements) for all media on your site — from your homepage’s main marketing message to the embedded logo of your credit card provider. Be sure to include descriptions for audio files, too.
  • Use appropriate contrast for text and background colors — People with visual impairments who don’t use screen readers benefit from a greater contrast between text and the colors behind it. Usually, that means dark text on a light background, not light on light or dark on dark.
  • Be cautious with tables — Use tables only when displaying tabular data, such as mortgage rates and checking account comparisons. Caption tags should describe the tables’ contents, and the correct HTML markup should be employed so that screen readers know the proper order to read the data.
  • Keep timing in mind — Provide your users with enough time to read and act on your content. Slideshows, carousels and other dynamic elements that don’t give people the option to pause or advance on their terms are obvious offenders.
  • Clean up your code — All pages should be checked for validation and parsing errors, including duplicate ID attributes, because these can also cause problems for screen readers.

When is the deadline for ADA compliance for bank websites?

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to establish website accessibility standards in 2018. However, that hasn’t prevented the DOJ and lawyers from targeting web accessibility issues on bank websites in the meantime.

How can BrownBoots Interactive help?

All of BrownBoots’ new bank websites with ADA compliance as a priority, and we can produce a responsive bank website — from planning to launch — in about three months. In other words, there’s still plenty of time to redesign your bank website and ensure it’s ADA compliant.

If you’re not ready for an overhaul, we would be happy to perform a website scan on your existing site and provide a list of red flags, free of charge.

Don’t risk being in violation, and don’t neglect any of your customers.

Request your complimentary ADA website compliance report.

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