ADA Compliance

It's not as easy as it sounds...

Are you compliant?

Likely not, but most websites aren't, as there is no official legal standard for being compliant, just several "Best Practices" that most court cases have agreed on, that all require different degrees of cost and management, from simply having alt-image tags on images for site readers all the way to making sure your website colors are not too similar so the site reader can tell there is a difference. 

Recent lawsuits, especially in the wine industry, have brought the issue to the forefront, so the time to have a plan in place is now.

We can provide you with a list of violations that are present on your website that will be discovered by online scanners and discuss the issues, plan for manual scans and plan for remediation, as well as ongoing monthly scans to make sure you are compliant into the future.

Knowing where your website is in violation and having a plan towards remediation before you are served will likely shine you in a much brighter light in the courtroom, as past cases have shown.

Image of a screen shot of the website


Thirty years ago the Americans with Disabilities Act required business and government to accommodate the disabled. This law is now being applied to websites and other digital content.

Complying with the federal law means a business or government agency provides fair and equal access to their content and services online. This means a website or mobile app does not discriminate against any segment of the population by denying access to the content and experience enjoyed by the majority of users.

Individuals with disabilities navigate the web using Assistive Technology. The most common example is a screen reader. Those with visual impairments rely on screen readers to “read” the content of a website. If a website is built according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the content is accessible. If it is not built according to those standards, a variety of errors occur which can make the experience frustrating for the user and block the content from being accessed.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, often referred to as WCAG, are universal standards for web development. They are implemented by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), an international non-profit organization that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the web. The organization is led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the web in 1989 while working at CERN.

The WCAG standards provide for a universal experience, which means that a user can navigate without a mouse or monitor. There are many devices the disabled can use to allow them the same experience as everyone else and these devices are developed to follow the WCAG standards.

Maybe, but since there are no definitive guidelines from the federal government as to what an ADA compliant website is, there are only court decisions to base what is and isn't compliant and acceptable. 

Complying with the federal law means a business or government agency provides fair and equal access to their content and services online. This means a website or mobile app does not discriminate against any segment of the population by denying access to the content and experience enjoyed by the majority of users.

Right now, more than 97% of the web is "non-compliant." It is very rare to come across a site that actually is in full compliance. It is a safe bet that your site has numerous violations.  Most platforms have looked past the WCAG standards and instead relied on visual effects and site navigation using a touch screen or mouse (all sites must be navigable without a mouse to be compliant).

There has been a surge in web accessibility lawsuits over the past few years. But the work is not new. Our ADA Partners are made up of industry veterans who help develop accessibility standards and have even worked with the manufacturers of Assistive Technology devices to ensure a fair and equal web experience for everyone.

While vision impairment is the most common disability among those who rely on assistive technology, there are many others. These range from individuals unable to use a mouse because they suffer from tremors, to those paralyzed at the neck who navigate the web by “sipping and puffing” into a device to control the cursor.

Common Disabilities Benefiting From Accessibility

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Blindness and low vision
  • Deafness and hard of hearing
  • Communication disorders
  • Mobility impairment
  • Cognitive disabilities

Common Types of Assistive Technology

  • Screen Readers
  • Braille Readers
  • Selection Switches (Sip and Puff)
  • Voice Recognition Software

Who Benefits?

The number of Americans living with a disability continues to rise. According to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control, there are currently estimated to be more than 61 million disabled Americans. Many of these individuals were born with a disability. Others suffered an illness or injury which resulted in permanent impairment. And as our population ages, a large number of Americans battle things like macular degeneration, which means moving forward the need for accessibility in the digital space will only increase.

The first step in bringing your site up to WCAG standards is to know where you are in violation of the standards and have a plan in place for remediation. 

The First step is an Auto Scan.

Auto-Scanning is the first step in achieving ADA web compliance. Auto-Scanners are able to locate many violations, however they are not able to locate all violations. The UK government conducted a study on the most prominent tools, including one provided by Google, and they all fell short. The best performer of them all was able to locate 40% of the violations. Google’s tool was only able to identify 17% of violations.

Our partners use a combination of open-source technology as well as a proprietary scanner tools. In addition to scanning and indexing the entire domain, we also analyze the site structure and locate templated pages. This allows for the most efficient remediation because when a templated violation, or common element, is fixed once the fix is automatically applied across the entire site

Once the auto scan has begun, you can say your plan is in motion.

The Second step is a Manual Scan.

The only way to determine if a site is compliant is through Manual Testing. This work is done by developers who actually use the Assistive Technology tools to perform the test. These developers are able to evaluate the code of the site to determine if disabled users will be able to navigate through the content, make a purchase, register an account, utilize services, etc. Manual Testing is required to achieve compliance to WCAG Standards.

Once the manual scan process has been initiated, you can consider your plan is in full swing towards remediation.

Does Every Page of My Site Need To Be Manually Scanned?

This is a common question, especially when dealing with larger sites. The only way to ensure complete compliance is to test each page of a site. However, industry standards allow for a few different approaches to Manual Compliance Audits. For example, if a site has 200,000 pages it will require considerable effort to test each page. In these cases testers will evaluate the site prior to beginning the audit. They will look for common elements across the site, such as page templates. One template may be used for hundreds of pages. If that is the case the tester will be able to evaluate where compliance issues are most likely to occur within that template and focus their efforts in that area.

How Much Does A Manual Compliance Audit Cost?

Costs for a Manual Compliance Audit depend on the size, complexity and quality of a site, much like a house, all are different. We evaluate each site at the start of a project to determine the effort required to conduct a Manual Compliance Audit.  This is technical work which must be performed manually. Code must be evaluated prior to quoting the project. There are no shortcuts.

We can give you a estimate on how much time will be needed for a manual scan of the site after the initial auto scan. The site may end up needing more or less time once the testers get deep into the site. Any extra time needed will be approved prior and any time not needed will be applied to the HTML remediation. Most sites we've found need somewhere between 10 - 15 hours of manual scanning time.

The Third step is HTML Remediation

The manual scan audit provides detailed information on ADA compliance violations across the site. This report includes the definition of each violation and its location within the HTML code of the site. It provides an evaluation based on conformance level, as well as severity of the violation. The audit also provides techniques for Remediating the violations. A quality Manual Compliance Audit is essentially a blueprint for a fully WCAG compliant website. This blueprint is crucial when conducting remediation work.

The time it will take to remediate a site can vary from a handful of hours to 100 or more. Once you know how and where you are liable, you can decide to remediate all at one time, or spread the remediation over a scheduled time.

The last step is ongoing reporting

Ongoing reporting is crucial to keeping your investment into ADA remediation up to speed, as any software update, content update or additional images added to the site could bring it out of conformance again. A monthly report will tell you how to keep the site compliant to standards. 

There are, and we've looked into them, and we don't believe they provide the protection you need or the value for what they cost... or both.

  1. Flat rate solutions: How much does it cost to build a house? The same amount for every house ever built? Unlikely. The same logic applies to a website. Any company proposing a fixed cost without evaluating the front and back-end of a site is either inexperienced or providing low-quality work, or both. This is technical work which must be performed manually. Code must be evaluated prior to quoting the project.
  2. Widgets, Plugins and more: There is no magic wand and no automated software that can make a website compliant. There are many products on the market which claim to do so, but none of them work as billed and some will even make a website less complaint, and certainly slow the site speed down.
  3. Temporary Overlays: In addition to their ineffectiveness, it is also important to note that the “fixes” made using these tools reside on the servers of the company providing the tool. This means that once a company stops paying the ongoing fee for the service, the site returns to its original non-compliant state and the work must begin again.

We'll be completely honest. Remediating your site will not be cheap and likely not fast, and if it's an older site or not reflective of your brand, you may be better off just starting over. The initial auto scan will be very helpful in deciding what path you should take. If it's going to take $4,000 to remediate your site and you can build a new one for $5,000, that's probably not a reasonable approach. But if it's going to take $3,000 to remediate your $10,000 relatively new site, that may be reasonable. 

Initial Steps

  • Initial visual inspection of the site
  • Initial auto scan of site and report
  • Analyze report for any major blockers or functionality issues
  • Manually audit core site functionality via NVDA screen reader
  • Manually audit core site functionality through tabbed browsing
  • Manually check for Aria labels and form tags, as well as purposeful link descriptions
  • Create initial remediation list to determine time needed for remediation tasks
  • Submit remediation plan and timeline to client for historical purposes.

Price for the above is $1750. It’s possible that core functionality could be addressed within the $1750 package, but until the above is complete that is an unknown and is determined on a site by site basis.

Next Steps

  • Estimate any additional core functionality issues - Quote
  • Estimate other outstanding issues - Quote
  • Determine which issues could be handled by client if desired
  • Deliver progress report for comparison to initial report - Included
  • Training on best practices for ongoing content - $250
  • Initiate monthly or quarterly re-scans with recommendations - $150/mo - $500/qtr


You can give us a call at 707.732.3490 to talk more, as I'm sure you have many questions, or fill out our Contact Form and we will get back to you as soon as we can. 

Additional info

  • No website will ever be 100% compliant to any standard, ever.
  • The ADA law doesn’t require a website to be 100% compliant.
  • Your core site functionality should be compliant to WCAG 2.1 AA.
  • Online scanners will only discover 25% to 40% of violations.
  • Online scanners cannot differentiated if a label or form title is correct or not, only that it is or isn’t there.
  • Manual audits after an initial online scan are crucial for analysis and remediation.
  • Accessibility overlays may keep you from being served, but they will actually make a site less accessible.
  • Software updates as well as new content entries can make a remediated site less compliant.
  • Regular reports are crucial in keeping a site as compliant as it can be.
  • Current ADA laws define you as guilty as soon as you are served.
  • You can settle with one plaintiff, and still be sued by others.
  • An accessibility statement on your website shows you take accessibility seriously.