Are Squarespace Websites ADA Compliant?

Making sure your Squarespace website is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant is important. First, you want your website to be welcoming for all visitors. There’s no reason to deny access to about 61 million users or 26% of the population that is disabled. Second, you want to avoid being hit with an expensive lawsuit for ADA non-compliance.

Does using the Squarespace platform to create your website automatically make it ADA compliant? Or do you have to bring in a company that specializes in WCAG website remediation to run a website accessibility audit?

Please keep reading for more information on Squarespace websites and ADA compliance.

Are Squarespace Websites ADA Compliant?

The Squarespace platform is a solid building block for creating ADA-compliant websites. It includes many of the requirements needed for accessibility. However, on its own, using Squarespace does not guarantee ADA compliance. There are certain modules in Squarespace websites that are not compliant. That could put you in danger of being sued.

If you have a business, charity, or organization website, you should be aware of the importance of ADA compliance. In recent years, the number of lawsuits for non-ADA compliance has exploded. Websites large and small have been successfully sued. Even Squarespace website owners are not immune.

What To Look Out For

When looking over a variety of Squarespace websites, certain non-compliance issues keep coming up:

  • Form modules missing proper input labels – All form controls on a page, such as checkboxes, radio buttons, and text fields need to have the correct labels to help identify them. Instructions, validating user input, and feedback to help users complete your forms should also be present. Some Squarespace websites are missing all or some of these elements.
  • Users who rely on assistive technology to navigate your site can’t access or complete your forms – Vision impaired users or those who don’t have the use of their arms rely on assistive technology to access websites, not a mouse. If they can’t use this technology to navigate your Squarespace website, it is non-ADA compliant.
  • Improper use of colors – WCAG 2.0 guidelines provide specific color contrast ratios and instructions as to the proper use of colors on a website. Certain Squarespace elements do not meet these standards. That could make your website inaccessible to users with poor vision and those who are colorblind.
  • Improper use of alt tags – On some Squarespace websites, vision-impaired users can’t access alt tags to describe images on a website. The alt tags may be missing, incomplete, or completely wrong. This deprives them of the same user experience a sighted person would enjoy.

Also, if you use the automated alt tags provided by Squarespace, you might pass an automated compliance test, giving you a false sense of security. These automated tags would fail a manual website accessibility audit.

  • Improper use of heading tags – Heading tags provide vision-impaired users with information on how a page is organized. Generally, this will go from top to bottom, left to right. On certain Squarespace websites, these tags are missing or disorganized.

Making Your Squarespace Site More Accessible

Squarespace does provide some information regarding accessibility for its users. However, a quick scroll through that page lets you know Squarespace customer service cannot advise on making your site ADA compliant. Instead, they recommend consulting with an accessibility specialist.

Most Accessibility Issues Are Due To The Designer/Programmer

Some non-compliant elements can be blamed on the Squarespace platform itself. But many accessibility issues happen in the initial stages when the website is being created. The designer or programmer may not be aware of or have the correct information to make sure all elements implemented are ADA compliant.

For example, a web designer may decide to add an animated element to a website. If the element flashes more than 3 times within a second, it could trigger seizures, dizziness, or nausea in certain users. There is a WCAG guideline that addresses this. Chances are the web designer didn’t know about it.

Auditing Your Squarespace Website

A website accessibility audit of every element on every page of your Squarespace website is the only way to be certain your entire website is ADA compliant. All pages should be checked against WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA guidelines, the standard for ADA compliance.

Once every non-compliant element has been identified they need to be fixed to conform to these guidelines.

Performing a manual audit on your own can be difficult. There’s no getting around the fact that it is time-consuming. It needs to be meticulous and you must familiarize yourself with all WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA guidelines and their solutions.

Some website owners are enticed by companies that promise fast, inexpensive automated audit tools. While automated tools can help, they are no substitute for a manual audit performed by an ADA compliance specialist.

Also, note that ADA compliance is an all-or-nothing proposition. If just one element on one page is non-compliant, your entire website is considered non-compliant. That one element could open you up to a lawsuit.

Instead, hiring a 3rd party company to perform an in-depth WCAG website audit might be your best option. By doing that, you can rest easier knowing your Squarespace website is ADA compliant. And as a bonus, you’ve just opened up your business to about 61 million more visitors.

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