One of every business owners’ biggest nightmare is to get sued. Financially, it can be detrimental to your business, but you also have to deal with a huge headache on top of running your business! Lately we have noticed a trending rise in lawsuits against businesses for the lack of accessibility, or ADA compliance, of their websites.
Do YOU know that you are protected against those types of lawsuits?
Let’s look at what it takes to have an accessible website, and to be safe from lawsuits of that nature.
What is ADA Compliance?
ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, is a landmark piece of legislation passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. ADA primarily focuses on physical access to public places and employment opportunities. However, it also extends to the digital realm, including websites and digital content because websites are considered “places of public accommodation.”
All ADA-compliant websites adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a set of standards to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. These standards address various disabilities, including visual, auditory, cognitive, and motor impairments, to ensure that all users can navigate, understand, and interact with websites effectively.
Why ADA Compliance Matters
- Legal Requirements: ADA compliance is legally a guideline, rather than a law, for most types of businesses. However since websites are accommodating the public, many businesses, large and small, have had lawsuits filed against them for not being compliant. Ignoring compliance can lead to hefty fines, legal troubles, and damage to your brand’s reputation. Government or publicly funded websites are legally required to be accessible.
- Inclusivity: Access to information and services is a fundamental human right. By ensuring your website is ADA compliant, you’re extending this right to everyone, regardless of their abilities. Inclusivity not only benefits individuals with disabilities but also enhances the user experience for all your visitors.
- Expanded Audience: Approximately 20% of the U.S. population has a disability and only 98% of all websites are not accessible. This proposes a problem for a fifth of our population, who may not be able to navigate your website like everyone else. By making sure your website is ADA compliant, you’re tapping into a sizable, diverse audience that might otherwise go elsewhere if your website is inaccessible.
- SEO and Improved Search Rankings: Since search engines value user experience, ADA-compliant websites will perform better in search engine results. Making your website more accessible improves its overall design and functionality, which can lead to higher search rankings.
Key Elements of ADA Compliance
- Text Alternatives: Ensure all images and non-text content have descriptive “alt text” so that screen readers can communicate the content to visually impaired users.
- Keyboard Navigation: Ensure all interactive elements can be accessed and used with a keyboard, without relying on a mouse.
- Contrast and Readability: Maintain a high contrast between text and background colors to make content more legible. Use clear, easy-to-read fonts.
- Closed Captioning and Transcripts: For multimedia content, provide closed captions for videos and transcripts for audio content to assist users with hearing impairments.
- Responsive Design: Ensure your website is responsive, adapting to various screen sizes and devices, making it more accessible to users with limited motor skills.
- Form Accessibility: Create accessible forms with labels, placeholders, and error notifications to assist users with various disabilities in completing forms.
- Testing and Regular Audits: Regularly test your website for accessibility and perform audits to identify and address any issues. For a FREE audit, visit this great accessibility tool and go to Free Audit. You can then sign up for service to enhance your site’s accessibility by installing an accessibility widget, which provides additional functionality. This tool will include an accessibility statement on your website, and the software developers offer litigation assistance. It is a wonderful tool for businesses at higher risk of being sued or those who just want additional peace of mind.
ADA compliant websites represent a step towards a more inclusive and accessible digital world. By prioritizing accessibility in web design, you not only meet legal requirements but also send a message of inclusivity and equal access to information and services. When building or revamping your website, make ADA compliance a priority, and you’ll contribute to a more inclusive digital world.
If you need help with your website, schedule a consultation with us today!