How closely does your business pay attention to the Americans With Disabilities Act?
If the answer is “not very much,” it’s time to take a close look at how your business may be violating this extremely important set of laws — even if it’s unintentional.
The Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, has implications across nearly all areas of business. It affects the sidewalks outside brick and mortar buildings and the stairs and handrails inside. It affects the websites that government agencies and medical service providers create. And it even affects the marketing materials your company likely uses on a regular basis.
So, what do you need to know about making your printed marketing material ADA guideline-compliant?
Before we dive in, let’s take a look at what the Americans With Disabilities Act actually is. Tom Martinez, who provides IT services in Grand Rapids, Michigan with tca SynerTech offers up some advice.
What is the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is an act that was passed into law in 1990, in order to prohibit companies of any industry from disability discrimination. This goes for government agencies, hospitals, and all other companies and organizations. According to the ADA National Network, “The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”
What does the ADA have to do with the content your business creates?
Many businesses and organizations are already familiar with the importance of making their websites and digital content ADA compliant. For example, when offering navigation suggestions on their website, a government agency can’t say something, like, “Click on the orange circle on the left to go to the home page.” This is because someone who is visually impaired may not be able to see the orange circle. All visual aids should be complemented with alternate text.
So, what about print materials?
Essentially, the same regulations that go for your website and blog apply to your printed materials, with a few caveats. The good news is, you can make your printed materials ADA compliant quite easily, and it shouldn’t severely detract from any of the visually appealing features you’ve chosen to utilize.
What are some tips for effective ADA-compliant printed materials?
One of the most important things to keep in mind when creating ADA-compliant printed materials is to keep communication simple. In fact, the information and the format and style of your materials should be as simple as possible.
Your language should be plain, to the point, and straightforward. Avoid using complex words or business and legal jargon. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. If you have to use a specific term that may not be widely-known, always provide a definition, either in parentheses or somewhere else on the page. If you have to use an acronym (like “ADA” for example), always provide the full definition the first time you use it.
Visually, you should stick to fonts that are easy to read. Helvetica and Arial are good choices, for example. The colors you choose for your printed materials are also important. Those with colorblindness, vision problems related to age or another impairment, and others with vision challenges should be considered. Finally, if you can, consider offering your information in braille and/or in audio format.
Can you get assistance with ADA compliance?
Yes, definitely. When it comes to making your website ADA compliant, talk to your managed service provider. Likewise, your marketing services company should be able to assist with ADA compliance as well. Together, they can ensure that both your online/digital and printed content is easily accessible to those with disabilities.
Stuart Crawford serves as Managing Partner with Ulistic LP, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.