Do you have a business that operates for the benefit of the public?
Believe it or not, a string of potential lawsuits and liability issues face any business that ignores the importance of ADA compliance. It’s true, state agencies and employers with more than fifteen employees must also adhere to certain rules and regulations pertaining to ADA compliance.
And the number of ADA lawsuits is on the rise…
Just so you know, ADA compliance related to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. As part of this act, websites must be accessible for individuals with disabilities and these standards are set by the Department of Justice.
In short, companies must adhere to these standards and the web content accessibility guidelines can be used to gauge in this regard. But more on that in a moment. In fact, if your website fails to adhere to these guidelines, your business is liable and vulnerable in the face of a potential lawsuit.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at why ADA compliance is so important:
What Can Happen When ADA Compliance is Ignored?
Your business is liable when it does not meet the criteria set out for ADA compliance. More specifically, according to Digital Authority, this means that your business can face potential lawsuits if certain individuals are unable to access this site. While you may not have intended this to happen, any failure to meet these standards can result in immense fines of thousands of dollars.
Anyway, you get the point, ADA Compliance is a big deal!
Now, that’s not to say the Department of Justice is a resource of any kind but rather to emphasize the importance and serious nature of ADA compliance. The truth is, there are no official documents or resources available from the state relating to ADA compliance and this can seem quite confusing for many business owners. After all, how can you fix what you don’t know?
Let’s take a look at how you can get your website ready for ADA Compliance.
WCAG and the Principles of ADA Compliance
As a rule, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the best way to determine whether or not your website is ADA compliant. Here are the basic principles behind these guidelines:
Perceivable – Users must be able to perceive all text, images, and videos on your website. What’s more, an alternative should be provided for users that cannot perceive certain text or content.
Operable – Users must be able to navigate your website and use each feature on the site.
Understandable – Users should be able to understand the web content on your site. In other words, you might want to include instructions and tutorials when it comes to certain tools or features.
Robust – users should receive the same experience from your website regardless of the way in which they receive this content ie. Through text or video or sound.
But what does any of this even look like?
4 Things to Remember About ADA Compliance
1. ADA Compliance is YOUR Responsibility
That’s right; every business owner is responsible for getting their website up to speed when it comes to ADA compliance. For this reason, you should take an interest in the above principles and spend time trying to understand how or why they impact the website. True, your developer should take care of the details but you need to ensure that compliance is in consideration at all times. That being said, always ask your developer to clarify whatever you might not know or understand about ADA.
2. Making the Website Accessible to All Users
You must always remember that different users have different needs. In this sense, it’s important to deploy accessibility tactics that will make your website easy to understand and navigate for every user. For example, your website should be just as easy to use for someone with a visual disability as someone who is unable to hear. Needless to say, this means that your screen reader should be working and keyboard navigation is imperative for this who might not be using a mouse. Every angle must be covered and it’s your responsibility to make the website accessible to all.
3. Aiming for Level AA Compliance
As you may know, the guidelines set out by WCAG consists of three levels. It’s recommended that you aim for Level AA at the beginning but then add to the website in order to achieve a triple-A rating:
Level A – Your website is accessible to some users.
Level AA – Your website is accessible to almost all users.
Level AAA – Your website is accessible to all users.
At first glance, it usually appears that most websites are already at Level AA but the user experience is much more complicated when it comes to ADA compliance. In other words, a surprising number of websites are only at level A and accessible to some users rather than most or all users.
4. Implementing ADA Compliance on Your Website
While you are responsible for ADA Compliance on your website, you are not expected to implement these features yourself. That is to say, a professional developer is always better positioned in terms of getting your website to the point of being ADA compliant. With this in mind, know what’s needed for compliance but also ask your developer to test and carry out the necessary updates.
ADA compliance is a big deal and your web development team should make every effort to ensure your business is not liable in any way. At the end of the day, a potential lawsuit will cost far more than the cost of getting everything up to speed and improved user experience is something that will better serve every visitor. At the same time, if you do not have the time or experience to make your website ADA compliant, this might be a good time to call in the professionals.