20 Things A Lawyer’s Website Should Contain
The standards for website accessibility are still evolving. While there is currently no legal definition of an ADA-compliant law firm website, attorneys should still voluntarily accommodate people with disabilities on their firm website because it is simply the right thing to do. It’s also good for business.
Here are the top 20 (plus one) things that all lawyers should consider to ensure that their law firm’s website is accessible:
- Identify the language on each page in the code of the website.
- The text on the page can be resized to 200% without losing the ability to consume the content and function in an organized form.
- The site can be navigated using a keyboard.
- Menus are presented consistently.
- Correct and modern markup is used. HTML, which is the computer language that makes websites appear in web browsers, is an ever-evolving application.
- No flashing or strobe effects are used on the website.
- No unnecessary motion graphics or animations are used on the website.
- No Flash.
- Redundant links on the same page are minimized.
- Images have alt-text that is readable by screen readers. Alternative (alt) text is simply a text description of an image. Attorneys should add descriptions to any image that conveys useful information to clients and potential clients.
- Headings are presented in the correct ascending order.
- Video content is captioned. If using video on a website, make the video accessible by adding captions to the video.
- Page titles clearly and sufficiently describe the content on the page. This is a good practice for all users, and also for the search engines.
- The contrast ratio between text and backgrounds is sufficient. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines recommend a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text, 3:1 for large text (defined as 14 point or approx 18.66px and bold or larger, or 18 point or 24px or larger), and 3:1 for graphics and user interface components. Whether all of the text on a site fits within these parameters depends on which colors are used, and the size of fonts.
- Forms can be read by screen reader software. All form fields should be properly labeled so that screen readers can discern what is being requested.
- If used, CAPTCHA provide alternatives. CAPTCHA are the puzzles that people must solve before submitting some forms. The purpose is to verify that the person is human. Many CAPTCHAs are difficult and frustrating for people with perfect vision, and without providing an alternative, may render a form unusable for people with disabilities.
- Links should be clearly and descriptively labeled. Screen readers pause when they get to each link, identify it as a link, and read the link’s text. For visually impaired people to be able to understand and navigate a website, it is important to make sure the links are clearly labeled.
- Auto-playing audio or video should be easy to stop. The recommendation is that videos and audio content that plays automatically should be easy to stop. Better yet, attorneys should avoid all auto-playing audio and video because it tends to be distracting. It also causes many visitors to instantly exit law firm websites when they are searching for private or sensitive information or advice.
- No text is underlined that does not provide a link.
- There should be no empty links.
- There are no empty headings tags.
Having an “ADA compliant” law firm website is impossible because the standards of an ADA compliant website are unclear and undefined. Nonetheless, attorneys must provide an accessible experience to those people with disabilities. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business since these users represent potential clients.
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