Why ADA Compliance Matters for Your Website
If you’re not sure why ADA compliance matters for your website, this post is a must read.
Perhaps you’re aware of the demand letters and lawsuits.
But did you know? It’s not just about the law. ADA compliance also brings about great benefits for your website.
In becoming ADA compliant, you’ll not only come into alignment with the American’s with Disabilities Act. But you’ll also improve your online reach.
ADA Compliance Isn’t Optional Anymore
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation. Most people are familiar with the physical accommodations businesses make, such as automatic door openers and wheelchair ramps.
But the ADA applies to the virtual world as well.
There are no deadlines for people to change over. There are no regulations outlining the details of what is required in making changes on websites. And the ADA, passed in 1990, does not provide the information.
Federal government websites use Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). However, WCAG is not mandated for private companies.
The law hasn’t actually changed. But the interpretation of the law has changed.
Lawsuits Against Businesses Whose Websites the Blind Can’t Use
There’s a rise in litigation involving the accessibility of websites to disabled Americans.
Take Thurston v. Midvale Corp for example. A blind person who uses a screen reader filed a suit against a restaurant. Because she could not access the restaurant’s site with her screen reader.
And White v. Square, Inc. The Plaintiff filed, claiming the Defendant’s “terms and conditions” at checkout denied the Plaintiff full and equal access to the website’s services.
Last year, a blind man filed federal lawsuits against ten art galleries. He claimed that their websites were not accessible to the blind.
According to the New York Times, “Most lawsuits are quickly settled, with the visually impaired plaintiffs earning a few hundred dollars per lawsuit and their lawyers pocketing thousands in legal fees.” Additionally, the NY Times notes that moving companies, colleges, insurance companies, sightseeing tours, restaurants and yoga studios are among the businesses served with lawsuits.
Business sued typically make their website accessible. And then negotiate a cash settlement.
To avoid being sued and to reap the benefits of becoming ADA Compliant, more and more businesses are opting to be proactive.
The Benefits of Making Your Website ADA Compliant
- Your website content will be easier to view. And navigate. On all devices. Including smartphones and tablets.
- Improved SEO. Search engines can index your content more easily. So, your prospects, customers and clients can find you. Which increases your influence. And your impact.
- Your website content loads faster. Even for people who have poor internet connections. So, people will be more likely to stay on your website once they find it.
Breaking Down the Basics
Kris Rivenburgh wrote the book on ADA Compliance. Literally.
And he relays the legal requirements on his website. Along with a breakdown of the basics.
- For large organizations. It’s best to appoint a Web Accessibility Coordinator who can oversee all compliance.
- Hire a qualified, independent consultant. WorldLight Media can help. We can perform an audit on your website and provide a checklist for remediation. Need someone to make the changes for you? We can help with most sites. Contact us for more information.
- Conduct web accessibility training twice a year. Wordlight Media can provide training for your organization. Contact us for more information.
- Adopt an accessibility policy page.
- Invite and solicit feedback.
Entrepreneur.com also weighs in on the steps to take for ADA compliance. Stating: “Under the law, websites need to be just as accessible as ATMs…, elevators, terminals and other user interfaces.”
In hiring a qualified, independent consultant, you need to find an agency who specializes in the web platform you use. Ask them about how they address accessibility. And their experience with making websites ADA compliant. Experience matters.
Find a qualified company who can audit your website. This way, you get a clear picture of what is involved in the process to come into compliance with the ADA. Costs will be dependent upon several factors, including server setup, tools you use and your platform. Plus, the level of effort and the time it will take to make your website ADA compliant.
There are specific elements that need to be included. Things like:
- Alternative Text—text linked to images that describe the visual picture.
- Contrast—important elements of your website, think navigation, must have enough contrast so that viewers can easily understand your mapping.
- Narrated Descriptions—specific software can provide narrated descriptions.
- Translators—devices that turn text into Braille.
How to Remain in ADA Compliance in the Years to Come
ADA Compliance is ongoing. But there are small steps you can take or add to your workflow. After you do an overhaul to get into compliance.
- Include alternative text (alt tags) with every image you upload.
- Your Web Accessibility Coordinator or Individual Consultant can monitor your website monthly. And run the audits that ensure you are 100% compliant.
- Closely follow the Web Accessibility Plan set forth by your Coordinator or Consultant.
- Engage in Continued Education on how to maintain compliance.
I’m Aware of the Issue. Now What?
WorldLight Media can help. Even though the law hasn’t actually changed, the interpretation of it has. And we want to make sure you avoid unnecessary demand letters and lawsuits.
We can help you become ADA compliant. And come into alignment with the American’s with Disabilities Act. Plus, we’ll help you improve your online reach!
It’s a win-win.
Contact us for more information.