15 Nov 5 Reasons Your Website Needs to be ADA Compliant
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is a civil rights law that was enacted in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It aims to ensure people living with disabilities have equal access to opportunities and services available to all, including
“jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public
Since 2018, these “public and private places…open to the general public” have been extended to the digital sphere per section 508
. Your website is an extension of your brick and mortar storefront – if not your only
storefront – and is expected to make accommodations for the disabled.
The law covers any business that falls under Title I or Title III of the ADA, including federal agencies, contractors, employers, and companies receiving federal funding; however, even if your business is not explicitly represented by these categories, you’re still leaving yourself vulnerable to lawsuits if your website is not ADA compliant.
There are many advantages to updating your website to adhere to ADA accessibility
requirements aside from avoiding legal action. Thoughtful website design
with special needs in mind can help:
- Improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO)
- Broaden your customer base
- Boost your business reputation
- Save you time and money
Read on to learn more about the top 5 reasons your website needs to be ADA compliant.
- Implementing Accessibility Guidelines Improves Your Site’s SEO.
Many of the website design recommendations set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
can also help your site reach the coveted top three positions on the first page of Google SERPs.
The WCAG breaks down four principles of accessibility. Your website should be:
- Perceivable. People need to be able to take in the content and information available on your website in a mode that is compatible with their sensory abilities or limitations. Some examples include adding alt text to images, videos, and other media; providing alternatives for time-based media; ensuring text is available in HTML format; and having customizable color contrasts and font sizes.
- Operable. This principle pertains to website usability. People should be able to navigate your website via keyboard only, disable flashing elements and other media that may induce seizures, and turn off time limits and auto-play features.
- Understandable. This covers both text content and navigation. Navigation should be intuitive and consistent across web pages. Your content should be readable and easily understood by anyone with a high school education. Additionally, when website users are required to enter information, correcting and avoiding mistakes ought to be easy.
- Robust. Your website content must be resilient and adaptable to evolving assistive technologies. To do so, you must keep your website code current and complete.
While ADA compliance is not explicitly a ranking factor for Google search, such factors as adding alt-text, keeping your website code updated, and including HTML formats are all SEO tactics that enhance the crawlability of your website. In other words, you’re providing more scaffolding for Google bots to crawl, analyze, and prioritize your site.
- Disability-Friendly Websites Broaden Your Customer Base
According to the CDC, 61 million adults
in the US live with some form of disability, including cognitive disability and hearing or vision impairment – that’s about 1 in 4 Americans.
If your website doesn’t follow ADA guidelines for accessibility, you’re essentially turning away a quarter of your potential customer base. That’s not smart business, especially since many digital marketing professionals
offer affordable ADA web compliance services.
We’d like to emphasize your potential reach when you have an ADA compliant website:
. That’s your untapped revenue potential when you ignore ADA accessibility. More precisely, that’s the after-tax disposable income
of the 20 million US adults between ages 16 and 24 with disabilities. This equates to about $17,000 of disposable income per person.
- Digital Inclusivity Boosts Your Business Reputation
More than ever, Americans value diversity and inclusivity. Whether intentionally or not, when your business website does not adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, people – the disabled, disability advocates, or otherwise concerned citizens – may associate your brand with a culture of exclusion and discrimination. Consumers can easily turn to social media to vent their frustrations, turning an easily solved problem into a major scandal.
Instead, be proactive. Include design principles and backend elements that improve the user experience for people living with disabilities. By doing so, you can participate in and leverage the culture of inclusivity to increase goodwill towards your company.
People promote the businesses they love – and that includes those companies who go the extra mile for their customers. Promoting accessibility through website design shows consumers you’re thinking about their needs. This gesture can inspire people to spread the word about your products and services, which, in turn, increases organic (unpaid) traffic to your site.
- ADA Compliance Helps Your Business Avoid Compliance Lawsuits
Let’s look at an example. The lawsuit against Winn-Dixie brought by a visually impaired individual named Juan Carlos Gil (Gil v Winn-Dixie
) in 2017 set the foundation for future decisions in cases regarding website accessibility. Gil claimed that Winn Dixie’s website failed to provide adequate accommodation for his disability because their site was inaccessible to his text-to-speech software.
The court held Winn-Dixie liable for monetary damages and required the grocery chain to upgrade its website to comply with ADA guidelines. In all, the case cost the company an estimated $37,000
– in addition to the plaintiff’s attorney fees.
Since the Gil v Winn-Dixie
case, the volume of lawsuits claiming a company’s website does not comply with ADA law has only increased. In only two years, from 2018 to 2020, ADA lawsuits have jumped 75 percent
– from about 2,000 to 3,500.
These suits are not limited to a specific sector. Companies across a variety of industries have been brought to court for failing to adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – whether they knew about the regulations or not.
- Following ADA Website Best Practices Saves You Time and Money
ADA compliance is a win-win for consumers and businesses. Consumers with disabilities can access online services and businesses expand their customer base while protecting themselves from costly lawsuits. Even if you were to settle a case out of court, you’re diverting attention and resources that could’ve been invested into your business.
If you’d like to protect your business from expensive and time-consuming ADA website accessibility lawsuits, reach out
to our ADA website design pros at Social Spice Media: (805) 482-8312. Our packages start at $2,500 and include a thorough website audit and concrete solutions to bring your site into compliance.