If your business is required by law to be ADA compliant, the same applies to your website. ADA compliance laws regulate website technical implementation on what needs to be done to make sure a web property is accessible to people with disabilities.
In the past few years, big-name companies like Reebok, Netflix, Estee Lauder, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Patagonia have all been slapped with lawsuits for ADA non-compliance.
The chances are that you think that ADA compliance doesn’t affect your website, but you don’t want to find out the hard way. Did you know that you risk fines of up to $150,000 if you’re found guilty of not being ADA compliant?
As more Americans with disability fight for their rights to accessibility online, the number of ADA lawsuits will continue to rise. In fact, in 2017 alone, more than 7,500 ADA lawsuits were filed in the US federal courts, a whopping 16% jump from the previous year.
Just a week ago, Beyonce’s website was sued by one Mary Conner of New York for not being ADA compliant. If the site is found to be in violation of ADA regulations, Parkwood Entertainment – the entity responsible for beyonce.com – will shell out at least $75,000 in fines for the 1st offence alone.
If the gravity of recent lawsuits brought by the DOJ is something to go by, it’s crystal-clear that website accessibility is no small issue. And after the ADA passed new regulations earlier this year, ALL websites are required to be compliant.
So, if you think your website is safe from ADA compliance regulations, think again! That’s why we have put together this brief guide to help you learn about important things you should know about website ADA compliances. Keep on reading; you’ll be glad you did.
First Things First: What are Website ADA Regulations?
The American with Disability Act was signed into law in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush. The Act itself sets out to provide the rules and regulations prohibiting exclusion of people with disabilities from accessing everyday conveniences like transport, accommodation, entertainment, and so on.
In part, the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) states that: “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.”
In other words, the Act makes sure that all businesses must not discriminate against individuals with a disability, no matter the disability. This also applies to your digital properties like website, web content, and software.
Is My Website ADA Compliant?
If your website doesn’t meet the accessibility requirements as per Title III of ADA, a lawsuit can be filed against your business. The good news is that W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) has created WCAG 2.0, a technical standard that you must follow in order to be compliant.
If you want to know for sure if your website is compliant, you might want to hire a web development company that knows the ins and outs of ADA compliance. You
can also check how your site stacks up against WCAG 2.0/2.1, which uses a 12-point criterion to gauge the accessibility of a website.
It places websites into 3 categories: A (good), AA (better), and AAA (best). If your site is classified as AA or AAA, you’re in good standing with ADA, and you don’t have to worry about Department of Justice breathing down your neck.
Why Is It Important for my Website to be ADA Compliant?
There are a ton of reasons why your website should be ADA compliant from day 1. Here are 5 of the most important ones:
(1) It helps you build your Customer Base
Here’s the thing: 1 in every five people in the US have some form of disability. Moreover, according to APSE (a disability rights group), Americans with a disability, together with their close friends and families, boasts a spending power in excess of $3 trillion. So, when you ignore your website’s ADA compliances, you are not only turning a blind eye to 20% of Americans but also losing out on massive business opportunities.
(2) It’s Mandatory (by Law)
As of last year, ADA regulations apply to all websites, from healthcare facilities and banks to small e-commerce stores and colleges. It’s no longer a preserve of government websites and blue-chip companies. Again, if your website is discovered to be ADA noncompliant, you will face the full wrath of the law.
If you’re a healthcare facility, for instance; make sure that your website is 100% ADA compliant. People with disability should be able to access all of your platforms without any hassle. Here 5 tips that can come in handy.
(3) It Contributes to your Corporate Social Responsibility
When your business is perceived as socially responsible, it can do wonders for your brand loyalty, sales, and bottom-line. In fact, according to Cone Communications survey, 81% of consumers are willing to “go above and beyond” to support a business that they think is socially responsible.
(4) Enjoy Tax Breaks and Write-Offs
ADA regulations were not put in place just to set accessibility standards for business; they also set up resources to help them meet those requirements. The Disabled Access Credit § 44 of IRS provides business with up $15,000 annual in tax deductions and write-offs to cover the expenses they incur while trying to meet ADA accessibility standards.
(5) It’s the Right Thing to Do
When your website discriminates against people with disability, you are not just breaking the law, you are also downright morally wrong.
What Should I Do to Make My Website ADA Compliant?
Bringing your website up to ADA compliance is surprisingly easy. According to Digital Authority Partners, here are some of the aspects of your website site that you need to stay on top of to become compliant:
- Your site must be keyboard accessible in its entirety
- All graphics (photos, videos, etc.) must have alt text, closed captions, and other alternative texts accessible by screen readers.
- All forms on your site must be accessible and have easy-to-see instructions and error messages
- The site’s HTML markup (and code) should meet WCAG 2.0/2.1 coding standards
- You should tweak your website to tell screen readers explicitly what language is in use
- You must use descriptive links and link titles appropriately
- You must use contrasting text and background colors
- Use easy-to-read font without using all caps.