In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. You are likely aware of the ADA’s physical requirements of accommodations for wheelchair accessibility, Braille for the visually impared, and access for service animals. What you may not be aware of, is that the ADA also applies to digital spaces, namely websites. Yes – read that again – YOUR website needs to be ADA compliant if your business is classified as a “place of public accommodation.”
The ADA applies to Title I businesses, businesses that operate more than 20 weeks of the year with at least 15 full-time employees, and Title III businesses opened to the public, such as schools, restaurants and hotels. Failure to ensure that your website is accessible to the visually impaired, hearing impaired, and those relying on the use of voice navigation puts you at risk for lawsuits and negative brand attention. To get a more in-depth analysis of accessibility options for websites, click here.
Recently, it has come to light that the ADA has a strict, no-excuses policy for these violations. Before, website violations were often overlooked. Now, there is a no-tolerance policy and your website could potentially be shut down or you could be assessed a large penalty. Since 2018, there has been a significant increase in lawsuits against commercial websites. If you haven’t already, now is the time to review your website and ensure it provides “equal opportunity to participate and benefit.”
What does that look like? Glad you asked! While there are no exact guidelines for websites, the following are good rules of thumb:
- Provide alt text for non-text content
- Ensure all actions can be completed using the keyboard
- Include captions or transcripts on audio content
- Use web page titles
- Incorporate headings and labels
Additional content accessibility suggestions by W3C are available here.
Having an accessible website could save you thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. But more importantly, it ensures that you are reaching all of your potential customers.
If you are unsure of your website’s accessibility, our team will happily evaluate your website, provide suggestions for improvements, and update it accordingly. Your improved site will not only be ADA compliant, but easier to use and will return better SEO!
Written by Andy Janecek | Web Presence Consultant