Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.

Register Here

Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.
Register Here
The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Take your inbound strategy to the next level

  • Master the 7 principles of highly effective inbound marketing
  • Dramatically improve your inbound sales
  • Get more buy-in at your company

How is accessibility influencing the way IMPACT develops client websites? [Interview]

By John Becker

How is accessibility influencing the way IMPACT develops client websites? [Interview]

The internet should be accessible for all people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It’s up to web developers and designers to make sure online content can be consumed by all users, even if they have visual impairments or other needs.

 Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. According to its federal site, the legislation “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.”

With is an ever-increasing focus on site accessibility, I sat down with two of IMPACT’s developers — Tim Ostheimer and Morgan VanDerLeest — to discuss the ways ADA compliance influences their work with clients.

John Becker: When we talk about accessibility, what do we mean?

Tim Ostheimer: From a legal perspective, accessibility is a short way of saying compliance with the American Disabilities Act. These are required standards which apply to places of public accommodation. For certain entities, such as state and government, that may include their website.

However, these requirements are still being developed and could eventually expand to affect most organizations. This means you should try to ensure your website and any publicly-accessible digital tools are usable even by users with a disability or an impairment.

JB: Are we talking solely about visual impairment?

Morgan VanDerLeest: No, there are various potential conditions which can affect usability. Aside from visual, there are issues such as auditory impairment or mental impairment. For example, some animations or visual effects can be distracting or make it difficult to consume your content. There's also a big emphasis on keyboard compatibility — being able to operate your website without the use of a mouse. And there are people with motor impairments who are unable to use a mouse or keyboard at all and will instead interact with their voice.

JB: Are there variations in compliance rules for different types of websites?

MV: There are, usually by industry. For example, health and finance tend to have stricter standards. But, it’s mostly based on the type of content being consumed or the document type, such as a website, PDF, or video.

Websites are a special case since they may even have embedded videos and audio within them, and guidelines related to those file types may not be applicable to other websites within the same industry that lack those features. Requirements may also vary depending on the countries in which the company is based.

JB: Are discussions around ADA compliance becoming more common? Why should agencies be having these conversations?

TO: The majority of clients who come to us asking about ADA compliance are ones who are required to have them. However, discussions around ADA compliance are definitely more common than they were a few years ago. Since these requirements are still changing and expanding there are some companies that want to ensure they’re up to standards as soon as they can be rather than waiting for it to be legally required.

MV: We look at our clients' websites carefully and consider their entire audience. For some industries, users with disabilities or impairments could be a significant percentage of our client's customers. For others, the number of users who fall into this category may be much lower. But, by ignoring their need to have proper accessibility optimization you're removing their ability to consume your website content or purchase your product.

So, even if you aren't legally required to implement it, ADA compliance is generally just a way to show you care about all of your customers.

JB: How does ADA compliance figure into your development project currently?

TO: ADA-compliant website design and development is an additional feature we offer for website projects, but we do not require it. However, we consider many aspects of accessible design for every website we create. Some examples of these considerations are use of color and contrast, size and placement of clickable elements, and actionable text on buttons and CTAs.

JB: Is this something you're doing piece by piece as you're building a site — or retroactively once you've finished?

TO: Discussions about ADA compliance are included as part of our blueprint processes so we know whether it should be a focus from the start of the project. However, a base level of accessible design is something we take into consideration throughout the entire design and development process.

Implementation of accessibility optimization may happen at different times. For example, color and visual aspects of accessibility start as early as the first few designs we complete, whereas user input functionality, such as keyboard inputs, may not be implemented until the site is mostly developed since it is an additional functionality that we add to the completed version of the site.

JB: What are some examples of best practices around accessibility?

MV: Here are some important ones to keep in mind:

  • Use of color and contrast to ensure text is readable. For example, not having dark text on a dark background or light text on a light background.
  • Operating the website without a mouse, usually using the tab key to navigate the website more easily. Something to consider is adding a “skip to main content” button so users can jump past the global header of your page so they don’t have to press the tab key too many times just to get to the first hyperlink in your text.
  • Including appropriate alt text on images, videos, icons, and other media so users with screen readers are able to access the same information and you're not excluding any necessary information from them.
  • Documents must be structured in a way that makes sense with standard header tags and sub-headings.
  • Having indicators or descriptive text to ensure user interface elements like buttons are understandable out of context. For example, instead of saying “Click here,” your button should say something actionable like “Learn about ADA compliance.” 
  • Adding appropriate mouse point gestures, such as the pointer icon when hovering over a clickable element or a hand icon when the element can be dragged and dropped. In addition to mouse gestures, adding other visual cues for interactive elements such as a change in color of your button when hovered.

JB: What do we want potential clients to know about ADA compliance?

TO: It's less about just being legally compliant and more about trying to provide the best experience for anyone who’s going to visit your website.

Generally, ADA compliance parallels best practices for web design and development — and optimizing for screen readers and mobile devices. This means that there’s no downside to ADA compliance other than the additional time spent planning and implementing it.

Many of the website features which are required for ADA compliance could end up being very useful to your average user as well, so there’s really no reason to ignore it. At the very least, think of accessibility as another level of optimizing for the best user experience.

Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.


Web Design
User Experience
Published on October 18, 2019

Recent Articles

Inbound Marketing Success: A How-To Guide to Conducting Content Interviews
September 15, 2021 • 4 min read
Yes, HubSpot can change your business — but it’s not a marketing strategy
February 24, 2021 • 10 min read
Is your marketing still relevant in 2021?
February 11, 2021 • 6 min read
Sure, They Ask, You Answer Works in Other Industries — But Will It Work in Mine?
February 10, 2021 • 7 min read
How to best use your 2021 marketing budget so your company rebounds
February 8, 2021 • 4 min read
Virtual sales training with IMPACT: Will it really help my team?
January 18, 2021 • 5 min read
How did small businesses respond to pandemic challenges? [New research]
December 18, 2020 • 6 min read
What does a virtual event consultant actually do?
November 17, 2020 • 6 min read
Virtual event technology: What does the future hold for marketers?
November 5, 2020 • 15 min read
Should you hire a paid media agency for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns?
September 18, 2020 • 6 min read
How PosterMyWall used COVID-19 to really listen to its customers [Interview]
September 17, 2020 • 6 min read
I’ve read They Ask, You Answer, why do I need your help to build my strategy? [Interview]
September 3, 2020 • 6 min read
We're not new to paid ads; what can we expect in our first 6 months with IMPACT? [Interview]
September 3, 2020 • 8 min read
2 things sales teams need to be focused on going into the end of 2020 [Interview]
August 24, 2020 • 6 min read
How to turn strangers into customers (and friends) with Facebook Ads [AdvertiseMint CEO Brian Meert Interview]
August 19, 2020 • 5 min read
How to make your company rebrand go smoothly, according to a graphic designer [Interview]
August 5, 2020 • 7 min read
How to use LinkedIn as a powerful B2B lead generating tool [Interview]
July 21, 2020 • 7 min read
How to leave feedback about your IMPACT experience (and why you should)
July 17, 2020 • 9 min read
How to succeed with introverted leadership [Interview]
July 14, 2020 • 6 min read
How agencies can better use data to prep for post-COVID success [Interview]
July 10, 2020 • 11 min read
How artificial intelligence is already influencing the digital sales process [Interview]
July 1, 2020 • 8 min read
Why growing as a specialist often doesn't mean scaling the ladder [Interview]
July 1, 2020 • 6 min read
How much does the HubSpot CMS cost — and is it worth it?
June 30, 2020 • 5 min read
Should I hire an agency or hire internal digital marketers? [Interview]
June 17, 2020 • 6 min read
How should you be spending your website redesign budget? [Interview]
June 5, 2020 • 7 min read