A Guide to E-commerce ADA Compliance

Table of Content

E-commerce ADA Compliance

Running a modern e-commerce business means having a picture-perfect website that facilitates an ideal online user experience. UX is optimized when as many people as possible can use an e-commerce website with minimal friction. And according to the e-commerce laws, “as many people as possible” includes those with disabilities. This means, that your store's UX should be ADA-friendly.

ADA-Friendly: Meaning for E-commerce

ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act is a US accessibility regulation. An ADA-friendly e-commerce website is a store whose content and design have taken into account the needs of individuals with disabilities to ensure they can access and use the information effectively. ADA-friendly websites adhere to web accessibility standards, making them usable for people with diverse abilities, including those with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.

Does My Website Need to be ADA-Compliant?

The simple answer is ‘yes’, ADA compliance is mandatory for websites. In addition to being a moral obligation, e-commerce website accessibility is essential for three reasons:

  1. Ignoring e-commerce accessibility makes you vulnerable to lawsuits. Just last year, 4,605 cases made it to court alleging that people with disabilities were unable to use websites.
  2. Experts estimate that people with disabilities have about $490 billion of after-tax disposable income. This is a huge business opportunity that could be missed if an e-commerce website isn’t ADA-accessible.
  3. SEO and ADA principles overlap because both require semantic HTML, alt text, intuitive navigation, and responsive design. In other words, by adhering to ADA, you also improve your website’s attractiveness for Google’s algorithms.

How to Make a Website ADA-Compliant 

ADA sets standards for accommodation in public places, including digital spaces. But while there are, for instance, specific ADA requirements for retail stores that are brick-and-mortar, the law does not stipulate how exactly one can achieve e-commerce ADA compliance.

Rather, the guidance on how to make a website ADA-compliant is set by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which publishes web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG). These provide 4 clear and detailed components of e-commerce website accessibility: POUR.

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

We’ve put together some lists of what to check or change on your website to fall into line with those four areas of compliance.


This standard means that users should be able to perceive site information and it can’t be invisible to them. That may seem pretty straightforward, but consider that the disabilities of people using the internet may include visually impaired users. To assess whether your website is perceivable to impaired users, ask yourself the following:

  • Is there a text that a screen reader can use to describe images to people who cannot see?
  • Is audio/video easy to turn on or off?
  • Is content laid out simply, with a visual hierarchy, and easy to understand?
  • Is there text to describe colors or shapes, or at least some context to aid understanding?
  • What is the contrast between background colors and text?

All of these assessment questions can be easily turned into a to-do list if one or more of them are absent on your website.


Operability addresses the need for user interface elements and navigation to be operable by people with any kind of disability. This means that using the website must not require actions or interactions an impaired user is unable to perform. Here are some ways to analyze your site in terms of operability:

  • Is all functionality available from a keyboard?
  • Do users have the ability to stop motion or slow down interactions?
  • Is content thoughtfully designed and checked so that it will not cause seizures?
  • Is it easy for users to navigate through online content on the website?
  • Are there digital breadcrumbs so users can easily retrace back to previous web pages?

Operability can be largely aided by design and development that includes web page titles, descriptive text, sequenced web pages, clearly marked links, and the ability to bypass text that repeats across multiple pages.


For a website to meet the understandable standard, it must be easy for users with any limitation to work their way around. Both the online content and operation of the website must be within the cognitive level or understanding of someone with disabilities. This can feel subjective, but there are some objective criteria you can use to assess your e-commerce site. Check your website and ask:

  • Do we use a lot of jargon or abbreviations?
  • Do web pages appear and function in predictable ways?
  • Is navigation and functionality consistent across the site?
  • Do users have ways to find help and correct mistakes?
  • Are there clear instructions throughout the site?
  • What is the average grade level of the online content?

Ideally, you will aim for around a 9th-grade reading level on your site. If your work or even product line is highly technical and requires extensive vocabulary, you should have descriptions and definitions to help as many users as possible understand your online products and services.


“Robust” addresses the need for substantive online content. Often, the implementation of standards in this area has to do with content creation that can be interpreted by assistive technologies. Hundreds of platforms provide assistive technologies and there are plenty of ways to ensure that your e-commerce site is robust enough to provide those technologies with good online content and direction.

This coverage of the four basic components of WCAG standards is high-level. You should know that there are many specific website accessibility standards your site should meet. To better understand how ADA is applied to websites and WCAG compliance visit the Smart Solutions Resource Center to read our comprehensive guide.  

E-commerce ADA Compliance Services

Ultimately, an ADA-compliant e-commerce website, or WCAG-compliant store, is about understanding how people with disabilities use a digital platform. Putting yourself in their shoes, then creating a navigable, easy user experience, ensures that you are serving as broad a segment of the population as possible.

Development and consulting

Web developers have to design with online accessibility in mind, but not all of them do. The team at Smart Solutions has whipped up key recommendations for how to get your e-commerce website WCAG-compliant. In partnership with Accessible 360, Smart Solutions works to improve e-commerce websites for impaired users by adhering to online accessibility standards.  

E-commerce accessibility QA

If you already have a website and wonder whether it is ADA-compliant, request Amasty’s accessibility compliance testing. Experts in Magento accessibility, Amasty has a track record of ensuring ADA and WCAG compliance of its multiple extensions in partnership with Snowdog and Hyvä, two other vocal accessibility advocates. Regardless of the e-commerce platform you use, Amasty specialists will skillfully assess the accessibility levels and provide detailed recommendations for achieving the recommended WCAG 2.2 AA level.

September 7, 2021
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