Creating an intentional, dynamic church website isn’t an easy task. Add laws and regulations to the mix and creating a site designed to reach the masses feels like a nearly impossible task. However, creating a church website that is focused on reaching as many people as possible in as many ways as possible should be your goal.
One piece of legislation that has people talking is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In this act, lawmakers have set specific boundaries that public companies need to take in order to meet the needs of every American, including their online needs. Since 87.27% of all Americans use the internet to some degree, ADA compliance is a big deal, and since your church has a website that people with disabilities may access, it should be important for you, too.
Who Monitors Online ADA Compliance?
“The ADA does not explicitly address online compliance, even after undergoing several amendments in the far more web-oriented era of 2008. With no specific coverage under the law, it usually falls to the courts to determine how ADA standards apply to websites—or whether they do at all,” says Site Improve, a company dedicated to ensuring all public websites are ADA compliant.
Since it’s up to the courts, many people have stretched their limits by attempting to bring lawsuits against companies for not having a website that meets the needs of certain disabilities. In today’s world, this can be a scary thing to consider.
Does ADA Compliance Matter to Our Church?
It’s important to know that religious entities are exempt from ADA compliance, however, there are ways around this exemption. For example, even though religious entities are exempt, if there is a childcare system associated with the religious entity that is open to the public, they are held liable to be ADA compliant. This could include the website promoting its childcare program.
As with any law, regulation, or rule people will continue to find more ways to beat the system. You have a unique position as a church to either disregard ADA compliance altogether and risk people finding a way around the system, or take a step in the right direction to ensure you’re protecting your place of worship through your church website.
However, this article is not meant to scare you into submission. As a church, your goal is to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ. You want to reach out to people in need and ensure they feel safe, confident and loved by one true God. Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act isn’t focused on spreading the gospel, their heart remains the same. They want people in need to have what they need to succeed. If this is your perspective going into redesigning or recreating your church website to become more ADA compliant, it changes the scare factor into a missional act of sincerity.
So, what do you need to do to make your online presence more ADA compliant? Here are a few tips.
Tips for Making Your Church Website ADA Compliant
- Code appropriately so that software reading screens can easily read the content to the viewer behind the screen.
- Add subtitles and audio descriptions to any type of media, including audio and video clips.
- Include audio control for any pieces of media longer than three seconds.
- Incorporate sign language as a unique piece of media for the hearing impaired.
- Eliminate any and all sudden flashes or constant blinking of any media.
- Ensure all forms of display appropriately and easily present information.
- Ensure you are not using colors as a way to relay information.
- Examine the content in various sizes of text to ensure information can be easily grasped.
- Do not use the hover or focus technique to access information or media.
- Eliminate pages that time-out after a period of time or include an easy way for individuals with disabilities to turn off said time-out features.