On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by America’s 43rd President, George W. Bush. The ADA – which produced the ADA compliant website guidelines – is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against physically challenged persons in all spheres of public living. It is a law that mandates public accommodation in schools, libraries, parks, and other public places.
The ADA regulations also apply to the virtual world of the internet, which was fairly new at the time these regulations were passed into law. This means you should make website ADA compliant and accessible just as non-virtual public places. The law seeks to publicly accommodate everyone, without any discrimination based on physical disabilities.
Wondering if it’s mandatory for you to follow ADA compliance website guidelines? Learn about the rules and regulations here.
What is ADA Website Compliance?
The internet provides global access to tonnes of information either in text, audio or video format. However, upon its invention, the internet often remained restricted or heavily reliant on assistive devices for millions of people to gain unhindered access. Therefore, the sole goal of the ADA compliance website guidelines is to ensure that people with any form of disabilities find the internet as accessible and hassle-free as the rest of society.
With over 300 million internet users in the United States in 2019, ADA compliance also applies to websites and even mobile apps. The ADA website compliance mandates that your website needs to be accessible to people who have a hearing, seeing or other physical disabilities.
Title III of the ADA and Section 508 guidelines require that a “place of public accommodation provides equal access to users who meet ADA standards for disability”. United States Courts have usually interpreted Title III of the ADA to apply to websites, though websites were never stipulated in the guidelines initially. However, some standards have also been recommended to be guidelines for website accessibility.
Apart from ADA accessibility, the most widely used and comprehensive standards for website accessibility have emerged from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 which the U.S. courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have continually referenced as a success criterion as the standard to gauge whether websites are accessible.
Why It Is Necessary To Follow ADA Website Compliance Guidelines
1. ADA Compliance Increases Your Target Audience
If you think your website is not already ADA compliant, then you are automatically missing out on potential customers because your website is inaccessible. With 26 percent of adults in the United States living with a disability, many may turn away from your products or services, if your website is not properly accessible especially with assistive devices.
For example, if you display products on your website without captions or alternative texts, you have only provided access to your webpage to every other person except a physically challenged person. Also, it’s important to state that you must ensure your website is fully accessible without a mouse so that people with physical limitations can have access to use it.
2. ADA Compliance Improves Your SEO Efforts
As the world evolves, so do technology and the internet get better over time. Now, search engines are built to crawl webpages to find out which ones have more human intention. If your website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it will appeal to users while it also improving your website’s SEO endeavors. This is why meta-tagging, proper captioning, video transcripts & translation, alternative image texts, and video transcripts should be largely considered.
3. ADA Compliance Can Help Your Reputation
Another important reason to make your site more accessible is that the ADA compliance website guidelines can increase your target audience by millions. You gain a good reputation from users of your website because you become valuable to them and that gets you more customers. It is important to note that new users of your website may have tried your competitors and gotten disappointed because of the poor accessibility of their website.
4. You Can Avoid Incurring Penalties
Although the ADA Act signed 1990 did not originally mention websites, as the internet was not widely used then, most businesses are expected to be compliant with the website accessibility guidelines. Non-compliance can lead to severe consequences such as huge fines, lawsuits, and outright jail terms.
Several esteemed organizations and brands have been hit with numerous lawsuits in recent years for not complying with the website accessibility guidelines. In 2018, there was a 200 percent increase in lawsuits targeting websites and mobile apps for their alleged non-compliance with ADA.
Some big names and businesses that have been sued in the recent past for owning websites that are non-compliant with the ADA website guidelines include Domino’s Pizza, Beyonce, Fordham University, and Kylie Jenner. Such lawsuits can be easily by having a website that’s fully accessible to everyone.
5. Offering An Accessible Website Is The Right Thing To Do
The law requires that websites should be accessible to all kinds of people in the community; therefore, your organization should consider it as required. From a different perspective, you also stand to gain from adhering to those website accessibility guidelines, as they help your website to be better, which eventually draws more people to your business.
Having an accessible website demonstrates that your organization is committed to inclusion and helping others by promoting fairness and doing things the right way.
Ways To Address Accessibility Issues Associated With Web Content
1. Create Alternative Texts for All Images, Audios, And Videos
Alternative tags allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of content with their assistive devices that they might not otherwise be able to view. Alternative tags simply describe the object itself and the purpose it serves on the site.
2. Create Text Transcripts And Translations for Video and Audio content
Text translation ensures that hearing-impaired website users understand the content on every webpage on your website.
3. Identify The site’s Language in Header Code
Making it clear what language the site should be read in helps users who utilize text readers. Text readers can easily recognize the codes and how they can read them.
4. Offer Alternatives And Suggestions When Users Encounter Input Errors
For keyboard input, if a user with a disability is encountering input errors, your site should automatically be set up to provide the user with recommendations on how to better navigate the website in order to find whatever content they need.
5. Create a Consistent, Organized Layout
Menus, links, and buttons should be organized in such a way that they are clearly separated from one another and are easily navigated throughout the entire site.
Is ADA Compliance Mandatory for My Website?
If a visually-impaired person can understand and access your website properly, you may choose not to be ADA website compliant. However, there is always a need for you to upgrade and put things in place to avoid being penalized for defaulting. It is better to create a budget to put your website in order than to spend it during court sessions. It is not mandatory for your business to be ADA website compliant, but to enjoy the benefits stated above, It is important to make your website ADA compliant.
No organization wants to spend so many funds on several court sessions or payment of fines for non-compliance with a guideline. The results of such endeavors can be catastrophic. It might even be the beginning of the end for some business. Needless to say, no goal-oriented organization or corporation wants to be in such a progress-threatening situation.
Therefore, it is important to employ the professional services of experts who can ensure your website is in compliance with the ADA website guidelines. This is where we come in. As a top ADA website compliance consultant, RSI Security will help ensure that your website is accessible to people with disabilities and that you avoid any penalties associated with ADA non-compliance. We will also ensure your website meets WCAG standards and help you gain ADA website compliance certification. Visit our website today to learn more about all the mind-blowing compliance advisory services RSI Security has to offer.