Website Accessibility Lawsuits: What Every Business Needs to Know

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Website Accessibility Lawsuits: What Every Business Needs to Know

With the rise in website accessibility lawsuits, what every business needs to know to protect themselves is more important than ever.

Ensuring accessibility is not just a moral imperative but also a legal requirement for businesses under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA applies to both physical locations and online sites.

Therefore, it's crucial for businesses to understand their obligations and take proactive steps to ensure compliance with accessibility standards.

How Does ADA Apply to Websites?

The ADA was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in various aspects of public life, including employment, transportation, and public accommodations.

But its application to websites has become a topic of debate and litigation in recent years. And courts have increasingly ruled that websites are considered places of public accommodation and therefore must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

In response, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published its Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA. It states:

“Inaccessible web content means that people with disabilities are denied equal access to information. An inaccessible website can exclude people just as much as steps at an entrance to a physical location.”

What Makes a Website Inaccessible to People with Disabilities?

Several factors can contribute to the inaccessibility of a website to individuals with disabilities. Here are some of them:

  • Lack of alternative text (“alt text”) for images, making it difficult for screen readers to interpret visual content.

  • Poor color contrast, which can make text difficult to read for individuals with visual impairments.

  • Use of color alone to give information, preventing people who are color-blind from accessing that information. Screen readers do not tell users the color of text on a screen, so the information would also be inaccessible to people using these devices.

  • No captions on videos, which limits what people with hearing disabilities can understand and access.

  • Absence of keyboard navigation options, preventing individuals who cannot use a mouse from accessing content.

  • Inaccessible forms and interactive elements — such as dropdown menus and buttons — which may not be operable with assistive technologies.

What is an ADA-Compliant Website?

An ADA-compliant website is one that conforms to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a set of international standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to ensure web content is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.

ADA compliance involves implementing design, development, and content practices that make websites perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for individuals with various disabilities.

What is the Best Way to Incorporate Inclusive Design?

Incorporating ADA compliant design principles into the website development process is essential for creating accessible digital user experiences. Some best practices for inclusive design include:

  • Providing alternative text for images and multimedia content.
  • Ensuring color contrast ratios meet WCAG standards.
  • Implementing keyboard navigation functionality for all interactive elements.
  • Using semantic HTML markup and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) roles to enhance accessibility.
  • Conducting regular accessibility audits and user testing to identify and address potential barriers to accessibility.

Protecting Your Business Against Website Accessibility Lawsuits

Here are some things you can do to mitigate the risk of website accessibility lawsuits:

  • Educate yourself about ADA requirements and WCAG standards.
  • Conduct regular accessibility assessments and audits of your website.
  • Implement accessibility features and fix identified issues promptly.
  • Provide accessibility training for any in-house website developers, designers, and content creators.
  • Consider consulting with accessibility experts or hiring professionals to ensure compliance.

Get a Professional Website Review for ADA Compliance

Ensuring your website is ADA-compliant is not just a legal obligation but also a commitment to inclusivity and equal access for all users.

At WorldLight Media, we specialize in providing comprehensive website reviews to assess ADA compliance and identify areas for improvement. We invite you to contact us today to schedule a professional website review so that you can take proactive steps to protect your business against website accessibility lawsuits.

Click here to contact us and get the conversation started.


Further Reading:

Three Ways to Make Your Website ADA Compliant

Why ADA Compliance matters for your Website

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