ADA Compliant Websites: A Legal Responsibility

ADA Compliant Websites: A Legal Responsibility

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to prohibit discrimination based on disability. At the time, this meant that discriminating against individuals with disabilities was illegal in any area of public life, such as at work, at school, or on public transportation. Over time, this law evolved to include newer forms of communication, like websites.

What does that mean for today’s online content providers? It means that ADA compliance for websites is now federally regulated. Any pages created or updated after January 18, 2018 must be accessible. The World Wide Web Consortium created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to help web developers and online content providers abide by the law. The guidelines include four main principles. Websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

Main Principles

  1. Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. This means that users should be able to view your content in multiple forms. It should be easy to see and hear, even for someone with a disability.
  2. Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable. In other words, a user should be able to navigate your site without stumbling into limited functionality or time constraints.
  3. Understandable: Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable. A webpage must be readable and predictable. It should be able to detect errors and help a user correct a mistake.
  4. Robust: Content must be robust enough that it can be reliably interpreted by different kinds of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means your website must be compatible with any current or future technologies a person might use to access it.


The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide success criteria that are graded A, AA, or AAA. These grades indicate the level of conformity to accessibility, with AAA being the highest. By law, you are required to meet level A and AA guidelines.

If you are creating new online content or redesigning and updating current content, Emergent Learning can provide some quick tips to help you get started meeting accessibility guidelines. We also offer a free evaluation of a sample of your content or a comprehensive evaluation of your complete materials. If you need a full service provider to help you recreate or revise your content, please contact us today!