What is Website ADA Compliance?
Here’s something 99.99% of businesses probably don’t think about until they’re hit with a lawsuit: website ADA compliance. Why are there so many website accessibility lawsuits? This post will cover what you need to know about website ADA compliance and accessibility law.
More businesses that have an online presence are becoming aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) concerns about their web-based pursuits (especially with the growing number of lawsuits drawing the matter to public attention) and wondering what ADA website compliance means.
The ADA requires certain businesses to make compromises for people with disabilities. Web content should be accessible to users who are blind, deaf, and anyone who must use voice navigation, screen readers, or other assistive technologies.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act is frequently connected with physical locations and accommodations certain businesses are required to make for people with disabilities. These adaptations generally include, for instance, wheelchair accessibility and the use of Braille for patrons who are visually impaired. The ADA also extends to the internet, requiring businesses to ensure that web content is accessible to everybody.
Website accessibility becomes more and more relevant as fundamental parts of our lives, from banking to medical care, involve the internet. And in addition to taking care of those essential things, people with health restrictions or impairments should get to binge-stream their favorite programs or easily order dinner online just like anyone! In short, website ADA compliance means that a website makes its content as accessible as possible to Americans with an array of disabilities. It’s a worthy cause, right?
Why Your Website Must Be ADA Compliant
In the U.S., separate from federal, state, and local government websites, which must meet Section 508 regulations, there are no enforceable ADA legal standards to obey for website accessibility. However, just because there isn’t a specific set of legal requirements for website accessibility does not suggest that your business will not be served with a lawsuit. This has naturally raised the alarm.
As lawsuits citing website ADA compliance make their way through the court system, the failures of contemporary website accessibility become increasingly evident. Judgments have come down on both sides, setting no definite precedent. What is apparent is that companies conducting business online have a duty to serve everyone equally. When we consider the user experience, we need to think about all users.
Businesses that come under Title I, those that operate 20 weeks or more per year having at least 15 full-time employees, or Title III, companies that fall under the classification of “public accommodation,” are subject to the ADA.
Failure to build an ADA compliant website could expose a business to lawsuits, financial liabilities, and harm your brand reputation.
Nearly 5,000 ADA lawsuits were filed in federal court for alleged website violations in the first six months of 2018, according to an analysis by Seyfarth Shaw, a law firm that specializes in defending such cases. (latimes.com)
At least 15 bike shops in California have received emails and letters from a law firm threatening suits over their websites’ compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a California statute. (BicycleRetailer.com)
Four Most Common ADA Website Compliance Issues and How to Fix Them
Website accessibility implies all visitors, despite their abilities, can equally experience a company’s website. Making a website accessible can be challenging, but fortunately, there are some resources to help.
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act has been in force for almost thirty years, the website ADA compliance terms are still widely misunderstood. Most website administrators don’t think about ADA when building web pages or that drafting content can leave millions of disabled Americans (and more users around the world) disappointed if they try accessing your website. Here are four simple solutions concerning website ADA compliance.
Not everybody uses alt tags. This issue may not be one of the most challenging because it’s one of the most straightforward problems to repair. Alt tags give alternate text for an image. If a screen reader doesn’t find an alt tag, then a user may miss out on your website’s graphic elements.
Whenever you upload a picture or other visual elements, take two seconds to add an alt tag. It’s a simple resolution to one of the most prevalent issues.
Headings can get out of order easily. It’s one of the most shockingly easy ways people can inhibit website ADA compliance. It’s often tempting to believe that they can fix which headings they want larger or smaller by applying header tags. This is an issue for website editors who view H1, H2, H3 tags, etc., as visual elements instead of definitive sequential progression. They often concentrate on the style of the headers instead of their functionality. So, if the H2 looks better than the H1, content contributors regularly change out the two without considering the consequences. That leaves the content out of kilter, and screen readers cannot read exactly what’s on the page.
Understand that before you stylize your headings, they have to be functional. If you need your headers to look a particular way, make the proper changes to the CSS and not to the actual header order.
This is a simple tool that people overlook, but it can help screen readers (and thus users) out so much. ARIA readers are rather standard tools that can use landmarks to prioritize screen reading.
Use landmarks to distinguish the header, footer, sidebar, and page content. This lets screen readers prioritize what they read to their users.
Navigation can often be challenging for screen readers. It’s one way that websites with several pages can easily ignore ADA compliance. ‘Orphaned pages,’ 404-page errors, or lack of breadcrumbs make navigating your website all the more difficult for a user with disabilities.
Implement different ways to navigate your site. Ensure you provide navigation in your header that’s reliable and lets people drill down to the content.
How Can I Make My Website ADA Compliant?
Send us your domain name, and we’ll run a detailed report for you. We will show you all of the items that have to be handled on that page to make it compliant. If your website is like most, it will take around 30-40 minutes or more to get that single page up to website ADA compliance standards.
Now you have to go page by page and do the same with each web page. Make sure to include everything from every article to every image. For example, many websites are hundreds and even thousands of pages deep, which, over time, helps them rank well. To demonstrate this more plainly, we recently reviewed a very small B&B client, and their website has 296 pages of content. If each page requires 45 minutes to be brought into ADA compliance, it would take 13,320 minutes (222 hours) to fix it. Even at only $60 an hour, it would cost $13,000 to make those corrections and edits for a small site.
Of course, as with just about everything else on the internet, you can find plugins or companies that claim that for $200, they can make your website meet ADA compliance requirements. Don’t fall prey to that. Website ADA compliance doesn’t work that way.
What Are My Options for Getting My Website ADA Compliant?
The simplest way you could become compliant is to have us design a brand new 10-15 page website that is 100% ADA compliant for a few thousand dollars. Or, of course, you could decide to do nothing and wait and see if the Senate decisively addresses website ADA compliance.
You may have recently received a complaint. Although some claims may read that they are demanding a jury trial, they are really seeking a settlement on behalf of their client or collection of clients as in a class-action lawsuit.
Does this indicate that the complaint you get is not legitimate? No. Does it suggest that all allegations are contrived by semi-unscrupulous lawyers? Again, no. Does a complaint mean that anything will come of the claim if you disregard it? Maybe not. So it becomes essential to know your real options.
If you have questions about website ADA compliance and getting your site to meet the requirements, contact us. In the meantime, please leave a comment below and share this post.