The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 and has since protected people with disabilities throughout different sectors of life from adding ramps to buildings to having special requirements for websites. To accommodate those with disabilities on the web, the ADA established WCAG 2.1 AA as guidelines for online content and website accessibility.

As a result of these new guidelines, many websites quickly invested in accessibility widgets to instantly make their websites ADA compliant and to prevent a lawsuit from coming their way. What many people don’t know, however, is that accessibility widgets are a complete waste of money.

Accessibility widgets don’t fix the underlying issues that make your website non-ADA compliant. Instead, they make your website to make it appear as though it’s ADA compliant.  

closeup of a finger pointing to ADA display

Why Should My Website Be ADA Compliant?

For starters, your website should be ADA compliant because if it’s not, you could face a hefty lawsuit. If a potential lawsuit doesn’t convince you enough, there’s also the added bonus of reaching a larger audience. If your website is tailored to meet the needs of everyone, including those with disabilities, you’re able to reach more people. This means more patients in your door.

In addition, Google seems to rank websites better if they’re ADA compliant. Although there’s no solid evidence to back this up, it’s known that Google favors Semantic HTML5, which plays a huge role in making a website ADA compliant.

So not only does making your website ADA compliant help you avoid a lawsuit, but it broadens your audience, and helps you rank better. 

What Makes a Website ADA Compliant?

WCAG 2.1 AA provides a long list of requirements to make a website compliant. In the end, your website needs to be accessible to people with all types of disabilities including cognitive, motor, vision, or hearing impairments. Your website should also take those with speech and reading disabilities into consideration as well as those who suffer from seizures.

For example, if someone were vision impaired and saw an image on your website but couldn’t figure out what it was, the descriptive alternative text should effectively convey what the image displays.

WCAG 2.1 AA covers the following sections: 

  1. Perceivable – Colors, audio, images of text
  2. Operable – Keyboard interface, timing, seizures and physical reactions, navigation, input modalities
  3. Understandable – Readable, language, error identification and instructions, help
  4. Robust – Compatible, status messages
  5. Conformance – Complete processes, non-interference

Are Accessibility Widgets Necessary?

If you go through WCAG 2.1 AA in entirety, there’s no way a simple widget can address all of these sections.

A widget can’t: 

  • Get rid of images with text overlay 
  • Add alternative descriptive text to images  
  • Translate languages 
  • Write more readable content 
  • Reorder headings 
  • Transcribe audio/video content 
  • Tackle many other problems, even if they claim to use artificial intelligence

More often than not, the majority of accessibility problems cannot be fixed with a simple widget. It comes down to the initial design and development of a website. When you use an accessibility widget, it doesn’t fix the confusing code in your website’s HTML. Instead, it slaps a Band-Aid over the real problems.

To put accessibility widgets to the test, we ran several dental websites with accessibility widgets through an ADA compliance checker. Most of these websites did not end with a passing grade (80+).

In contrast, we ran several of our client’s websites without accessibility widgets through the same accessibility checker and they passed with flying colors, scoring at 80 and above. This ultimately proves that accessibility widgets don’t work.

Downsides of Accessibility Widgets

But wait, there’s more! Not only do accessibility widgets not fix all the underlying accessibility problems on your website, but they also weigh them down. These widgets can affect any website’s speed which can make the user experience even worse. Slower website speed can lead to a higher bounce rate and affect your SEO.

If you’re investing in a widget because you think it will prevent you from getting tangled up in a lawsuit. Think again. As of March 2020, websites with widgets are already experiencing ADA lawsuits.

Considering that these widgets don’t fix the underlying problems and can still lead to lawsuits, is it really worth the poor website experience? We don’t think so. 

ADA Compliant Websites For Dentists

So how do you get an ADA compliant website without giving your money to one of these accessibility widget companies? You invest in an ADA compliance dental website design. At Pro Impressions Marketing, we strategically design, write, and code our websites with ADA compliance in mind. You won’t have a clunky accessibility widget distracting your visitors or weighing down your website speed. Instead, you will have a beautiful website that showcases your dental office and attracts new patients.

Stop wasting money on accessibility widgets and invest in a website built with ADA compliance. Contact Pro Impressions Marketing today at (970) 672-1212 to schedule a consultation and learn more about our website design options.