Website Accessibility: What Nonprofits Need to Know About ADA Compliance

author Candace Bozek on August 21, 2018

What is ADA Compliance?

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990, prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. Recently, new regulations came into effect expanding ADA compliance to the World Wide Web.

Starting January 2018, federal websites must meet all of the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

These regulations are part of a broader movement called the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The Web Accessibility Initiative has the mandate to enable people with diverse abilities to participate equally on the Web.

The Web Accessibility Initiative has the mandate to enable people with diverse abilities to participate equally on the Web.

Websites, applications, and technologies designed without accessibility features create barriers that exclude people from using the web.

The WAI brings together people from industry, disability organizations, government, and research labs to develop guidelines and resources to make the web accessible to people with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.

ADA Compliance for Nonprofits

ADA website compliance doesn’t apply to the private sector yet, but any organization that provides a public service should have a fully accessible website.

Particularly nonprofits and associations that serve the public, inclusivity should be at the forefront of organizational strategy.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) outline three levels of compliance; Level A, AA, and AAA. Success criteria for each level are defined in the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines. Conformance claims are optional but if you would like to file an accessibility claim for your website, follow these directions.

Under each principle, the WCAG 2.0 outlines 61 guidelines to create an ADA compliant web presence. While this might seem overwhelming at first, don’t panic. You probably already meet most of the standards already.

The simplest Level A guidelines that you can implement immediately include:

  • 1.1.1 Non-text Content: All non-text content has a text alternative.
  • 1.2.1 Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded): Media alternatives are available for any audio-only or video-only content.
  • 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded): Captions are provided for all video content.
  • 1.3.1 Info and Relationships: Information, structure, and relationships can be easily determined or are available in text.
  • 1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence: When the sequence of content affects meaning, a correct reading sequence can be determined.
  • 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics: Instructions and content do not rely solely on sensory characteristics such as shape, size, visual location, orientation, or sound.
  • 1.4.1 Use of Color: Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.
  • 1.4.2 Audio Control: If any audio plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, a mechanism is available to pause or stop the audio or control the volume.
  • 1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio: For audio content with speech in the foreground, there are no background sounds, background audio can be turned off, or background sounds are at least 20 decibels lower than the foreground speech.
  • 2.3.1 Three Flashes or Below Threshold: Web pages do not contain anything that flashes more than three times in a second, or the flash is below the general flash and red flash thresholds.
  • 2.4.2 Page Titled: Web pages have titles that describe topic or purpose.
  • 2.4.3 Focus Order: It is easy to determine the correct focus order of content.
  • 2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context): The purpose of each link can be determined.
  • 3.1.1 Language of Page: The default language can be determined.
  • 3.2.1 On Focus: When any component receives focus, it does not change its context.
  • 3.3.2 Labels or Instructions: Labels or instructions are provided when content requires user input.

The more challenging guidelines will require the help of your developer. These include:

  • 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum): Text and images of text have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.
  • 1.4.4 Resize text: Website can handle text scaling up to 200%.
  • 2.1.1 Keyboard: Website must be fully navigable through keyboard only.
  • 2.2.1 Timing Adjustable: Any content with time limits offers users the option to turn off, adjust, or extend the limit.
  • 2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide: There is an option to pause, stop or hide any moving, blinking, scrolling, or auto-updating information.
  • 3.2.2 On Input: Changing the setting of any user interface component does not automatically cause a change of context unless the user has been advised in advance.
  • 3.3.1 Error Identification: If an input error is automatically detected, the item that is in error is identified and the error is described to the user in text.
  • 4.1.1 Parsing: In content implemented using markup languages, elements have complete start and end tags, elements are nested according to their specifications, elements do not contain duplicate attributes, and any IDs are unique, except where the specifications allow these features.
  • 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value: For all user interface components, the name and role can be determined and the value can be set.

Not sure how your website measures up to the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines? Use this FREE online tool to check your website accessibility today.

Morweb Website Accessibility

If your website is hosted with us at Morweb or you are looking to switch to our nonprofit CMS, we can add an accessibility widget to make your website more accessible. Our widget will allow visitors to easily adjust settings on your website to meet their unique needs.


Morweb’s website accessibility widget offers the following functionality:

  • Increase/decrease font size
  • Convert website to black and white
  • Invert colours
  • Highlight links
  • Change font type to regular non-serif

Follow Morweb's tips to maximize website accessibility:

With Morweb, it is easy to stay ADA compliant as you add new content with our live editor. The Morweb platform offers so many options for customization that it is easy to make adjustments to meet the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Follow these 10 tips for accessibility:

  1. Use high contrast colours for text and images - test your contrast ratio with this free tool
  2. Use a neutral or white background
  3. Avoid background audio
  4. Choose a font that is easy to read
  5. Title each page and include clear descriptions
  6. Add alternative text for all images
  7. Indicate link purpose using link text or alternative text
  8. Use different sized headings and paragraph text to convey a correct reading sequence
  9. Offer media alternatives for audio or video content such as a transcript or captions
  10. Include labels or instructions whenever necessary
  11. Add important links to your footer offering multiple ways for visitors to access them

Ready to bring your nonprofit website up to ADA compliance? Get in touch with the Morweb team today.


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3 Steps to GDPR Compliance. Learn about GDPR and how it applies to nonprofits and associations operating in Canada and the United States.

Categories: Website Design

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