Why ADA Website Compliance is Essential for Business Success
The information presented within this blog is aimed at business owners seeking to learn more about web accessibility. This blog has no legal bearing, and cannot be relied on in the case of litigation.
In today’s digital age, having a visually appealing and user-friendly website is imperative for any business to compete online. However, many business owners overlook an essential aspect of website design: ADA compliance. ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, sets standards that ensure equal access and accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Over 42.5 million people in the U.S. have disabilities, if your website isn’t ADA compliant, you could unintentionally be excluding this population of potential customers.
While many businesses overlook ADA website compliance, it’s important to address the issue because quite frankly it’s a legal obligation. In 2010 the ADA Standards for Accessible Design was passed mandating that all websites be accessible to those with a disability. We’ve seen an increase in the number of lawsuits being filed against businesses as a result of this regulation. It’s important to ensure your website meets ADA guidelines to avoid a lawsuit, but also to enhance your reputation and customer trust.
This article will explore why ADA compliance is vital for business success and how it benefits both your customers and your company. We’ll discuss more about the legal requirements under ADA, and the steps your business can take to make your website ADA compliant.
What is ADA Website Compliance?
It’s important to understand that having an ADA compliant website means you are granting equal access to all customers no matter their disability. This is similar to the guidelines set forth for equal access to a building and restrooms under ADA.
ADA website compliance refers to ensuring that your website meets the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. These standards aim to provide equal access and usability for individuals with disabilities, including those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or have mobility impairments. In terms of website compliance, those who are deaf may use closed captions, those who are blind may use a screen reader to access websites, and others may use voice recognition software to better understand information.
By making your website ADA compliant, you are creating an inclusive online environment that allows all users to navigate and interact with your content.
The legal implications of non-compliance
ADA website compliance is not only a best practice but also a legal obligation for businesses. Failure to comply with ADA guidelines can result in lawsuits and costly legal penalties. In 2022 there were a record number of lawsuits filed at 3,255 which is a 12% increase from 2021. While these lawsuits typically start with a demand letter to the business, having a lawsuit on your hands could damage a company’s reputation and lead to financial losses.
Benefits of ADA Website Compliance
Ensuring your website is ADA compliant doesn’t just protect your business from potential litigation; it also offers numerous benefits for both your customers and your company. Firstly, it allows individuals with disabilities to access and engage with your website, giving them the same opportunities as other users. This inclusivity can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Additionally, an ADA compliant website can improve your company’s reputation and brand image. By demonstrating a commitment to accessibility, you show that you value and prioritize the needs of all individuals, regardless of their disabilities. This can enhance customer trust and attract a wider audience to your business.
In addition to the legal and ethical considerations, ADA website compliance can also have a positive impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Search engines like Google value websites that are accessible to all users and may prioritize ADA compliant sites in search results. By making your website ADA compliant, you can improve its visibility and attract more organic traffic.
How to make your website ADA compliant
Now that you understand the legality of having an ADA compliant website, and the implications in place for not making your website accessible it’s time to discuss how to make your website ADA compliant.
Making your website ADA compliant requires careful consideration and implementation of accessibility best practices, working with an agency that specializes in ADA compliance is the best way to ensure you are properly implementing compliance.
There are also many resources available like accessiBe which is a website plugin that provides ADA compliance. AccessiBe is an AI-driven web accessibility solution, offering a comprehensive suite of features, that can help identify and quickly remediate web accessibility issues that requires very little management.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure your website meets ADA guidelines:
- Provide alternative text for images: Add descriptive alternative text to all images on your website, ensuring that visually impaired users can understand the content of the images.
- Use proper headings and structure: Organize your content using heading tags (H1, H2, etc.) to create a logical hierarchy. This allows screen readers to navigate and understand the structure of your web pages.
- Ensure color contrast: Use high color contrast between text and background to improve readability for individuals with visual impairments.
- Use legible fonts. Take special consideration when selecting a font’s weight, style and size to ensure it’s easy to read for all users.
- Make forms accessible: Label form fields clearly, provide instructions, and use proper error messages to assist individuals with disabilities in completing forms.
- Include captions and transcripts: Provide captions for videos and audio files and offer transcripts for audio content. This ensures that individuals with hearing impairments can access the information. This is also a helpful tip when uploading videos on social media, as many users prefer to watch videos with the sound off.
Test ADA Compliance on Your Website
To ensure your website is ADA compliant, it’s crucial to conduct regular accessibility testing. There are various tools available that can help you identify accessibility issues and suggest improvements. Some popular ADA compliance testing tools include:
- Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE): WAVE provides a detailed analysis of your web pages, highlighting any accessibility errors or issues.
- Accessibility Checker: Is a web based checker that analyzes your web page’s level of compliance with ADA and WCAG standards
- Color Contrast Analyzers: These tools help you check and adjust the color contrast on your website to meet ADA requirements.
- Screen Readers: Using screen readers like NVDA and VoiceOver can help you understand how individuals with disabilities experience your website.
Tips for Maintaining ADA Compliance
ADA compliance is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to regularly review and update your website to ensure continued accessibility. Here are some tips for maintaining ADA compliance:
- Stay updated with guidelines: Keep yourself informed about the latest ADA guidelines and accessibility best practices to ensure your website remains compliant.
- Conduct periodic audits: Regularly audit your website for accessibility issues and address them promptly to maintain compliance.
- Seek feedback: Encourage feedback from users, especially those with disabilities, to identify areas for improvement and enhance accessibility.
ADA website compliance is not only a legal obligation but also a crucial factor in business success. By ensuring your website meets ADA guidelines, you create an inclusive online environment that benefits all users. ADA compliance protects your business from potential litigation, enhances your reputation, and improves customer trust. Moreover, an ADA compliant website can improve user experience, increase customer satisfaction, and even boost your SEO efforts. Prioritizing ADA website compliance is a great investment for your business today and well into the future. Contact us today to ensure your website is compliant!