Is Your Business Website Compliant Under ADA Regulations?
As someone responsible for the company website, there’s probably a good chance you already pay close attention to various user experience aspects of your site. For example, you might make it a priority to have a responsive page that adjusts to screen size or certain color combinations that match your branding.
However, suppose you aren’t paying attention to certain aspects that make it easy for all visitors with varying abilities to view your website. In that case, you could be setting yourself up for an ADA compliance issue.
Here’s what that means and what you could be facing if you ignore it.
What is the ADA, and Why Does It Matter?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines ensure companies and other organizations cannot discriminate against disabled individuals.
When the laws were first put into place, there was no such thing as the internet. In fact, computers were just making their way into homes and businesses across the country.
While the guidelines are designed to ensure everyone receives equal opportunity to access information in the same manner, they now have a significant bearing on digital access, too.
This means website owners must follow the same guidelines that a brick-and-mortar retailer does when it comes to accommodating the varying needs of individuals. While these guidelines can vary, usually they mean making sure things like navigation, fonts, and colors are suited to the needs of everyone, or there is a reasonable way to get the same information without having to view your website.
What Happens If You Are Sued for Website Accessibility Issues?
Website accessibility lawsuits are growing. The number of ADA Title III Legal Letters sent skyrocketed up 300% from 2018 to 2019. Lawsuit numbers are estimated to continue to increase as the need to enable accessible digital experiences becomes more prominent.
Unfortunately, the law is the law, and most ADA lawsuits favor the party who filed. Thus, while often dismayed at frivolous claims, judges are left to award judgments totaling several thousand dollars to the plaintiff.
As a company, it would be detrimental to lose this amount of money just because you didn’t take the time to check a few things on your website. And that’s where the following best practices come in.
ADA Website Compliance Best Practices
The WCAG 2.1 guidelines suggest various best practices that businesses should do in order to ensure total ADA website compliance. These include:
- Perceivable Guidelines – including text alternatives for non-text content, content should be able to be presented in different ways without losing information. In addition, all information must be presented in ways users can perceive and cannot be invisible to all their senses.
- Operable Guidelines – Interfaces should not require interaction that any user cannot perform. Users should have options for navigating and inputting, enough time to review all content, and content should not be designed in a way known to cause seizures or physical reactions.
- Understandable Guidelines – The user should be able to understand all content and understand how to interface with the website.
- Robust Guideline – Website information should be robust enough that a wide range of users and technologies can access and interpret it.
The good news is that website owners are permitted to include a disclaimer that states those who cannot access the page entirely can contact them directly for alternative methods. So, for example, if someone cannot hear a sound clip on your page and then get in touch, you would be able to provide a written transcript.
Wrap Up: Enable Users and Protect Your Business
If you haven’t checked to see if your website is compliant with ADA accessibility guidelines, now is the perfect time to make it happen. Failure to do so leaves your organization open to a potential lawsuit in the future, which can mean spending thousands of dollars in legal fees or having to pay fines. Additionally, making the web more inclusive and removing barriers to information online is the right thing to do.
By taking the extra steps to either make changes, add disclaimers, or otherwise adjust your current website accordingly, you can ensure that your website is accessible to the disability community and protect your company from ADA compliance-related litigation.
The digital marketing experts at Higher Information Group work with the pros at accessiBe – a simple and automated system powered by AI that can help the websites we host achieve full ADA compliance within 48 hours. Contact us to learn more!
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