Why ADA Compliance MUST Be a Web Design Priority
In 2018 and 2019 alone, there were over 2,200 lawsuits filed in federal courts over the compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The majority of these lawsuits were filed against smaller and medium-scale businesses. With companies moving their businesses online due to COVID-19, this inventory of litigation is expected to increase if websites are not ADA compliant.
ADA compliance is an important mandate that website owners, designers, and developers need to consider when building a website. Not only does this provide a better user experience (UX) for people with disabilities, but it also saves the company from potential legal battles down the line.
The negative impact and the business losses that an ADA website compliance lawsuit may cause are enough to push many companies to get ADA compliance services from professional agencies. Let’s take a look at why ADA compliance must be a priority.
ADA Compliance Is About Civil Rights
The ADA is a civil rights law that requires all places of public accommodation to be able to serve people with disabilities.
Title III of the act is interpreted to include online sites as places of public accommodation.
As such, ADA compliance website audits must be conducted by companies to ensure that
all web content can be readily consumed by people with disabilities. For instance, a company may end up facing an ADA website compliance lawsuit if its website is not compatible with screen readers.
The ADA is strict in that it does not allow excuses. An organization cannot say in their defense that they’re still working on their website or that they are not well-versed on ADA compliance website guidelines.
Unfortunately, the act does not cite specific ADA website compliance guidelines. This is why companies are using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as reference instead.
5 Reasons to Prioritize ADA Compliance
Companies deal with business-impacting consequences for non-compliance, which is why ensuring digital accessibility for everyone should be prioritized.
Ensuring website accessibility compliance is mandated by the law
The law protects people with disabilities against discrimination in places of public accommodation, which includes websites. The law also ensures equal opportunities for everyone.
Even the biggest names across various industries are not immune to ADA compliance lawsuits:
In 2016, a lawsuit was filed because the website and app were inaccessible to screen reading software. Some customers with disabilities were thus unable to order customized pizzas or redeem online-only discounts.
Because of the missing alt text for images and empty links, Nike’s website became inaccessible to screen readers in 2018. A lawsuit was filed against Nike due to this error.
Beyonce’s website was sued due to errors such as having no alt text for images, absence of accessible drop-down menus, and inaccessible keyboard.
If a person files an ADA website compliance lawsuit and wins, the company may end up paying thousands of dollars in penalties and legal fees. These are business expenses that could easily be avoided by conducting thorough ADA compliance website audits internally and implementing WCAG compliance measures. You can also hire professionals who are experts in WCAG compliance to work on your website.
ADA Website Compliance Promotes Long-Term Profitability
People with disabilities use the internet as much as everyone else. Making your web content and functions accessible and usable to people with disabilities allows for a positive customer experience which potentially translates to customer loyalty.
There are approximately 20 million U.S. adults with disabilities who can benefit from these inclusive marketing practices. From a profitability standpoint, companies can tap into the buying power of this specific market share.
The total disposable income from people with disabilities in the U.S. amounts to approximately $490 billion. They also represent 10 percent of the overall online spending. A company that aims for long-term profitability should not ignore this economic group.
ADA Compliance Gives Your Company a Competitive Edge
Site visitors all want a seamless browsing and buying experience. Companies that are able to provide that gain advantage against their competition.
Businesses with ADA website compliance issues may lose their customers to their ADA-compliant competitors. Consumers who have difficulties navigating pages and apps end up leaving and taking their business elsewhere.
If a customer is having a hard time filling out forms or is unable to seamlessly process an order, he or she is likely to leave your store and buy someplace else.
WCAG Compliance Guidelines Protect Your Company’s Online Reputation
Word-of-mouth marketing is very prominent online. Online reputation is important because online reviews influence buyers’ decisions and brand perception.
It is even more critical for this market segment. Research shows that the majority of shoppers with disabilities would rather go to an ADA compliance website than ask for help when they encounter accessibility issues.
Some of the biggest brands across various industries had to deal with lawsuits that affected their online brand reputation because their websites were not ADA web compliant.
ADA Compliance Optimizes Your Site for Search
Following ADA standards can help companies optimize their sites in the process. Elements such as image alt text, tags, video transcription, captions, sitemaps, color contrast, and text size are important for SEO optimization.
A WCAG adherent website may be accessed by screen readers. ADA website compliance allows screen readers and search engines to crawl your web content so that people with disabilities will have no problems accessing this information.
ADA web compliance benefits a company and helps prevent legal trouble. This should not be considered an afterthought. The WCAG Compliance Guidelines have helped designers and developers in checking for ADA compliance.
There are digital marketing agencies, as well, who can work with you in ensuring that your website is ADA compliant. Other than having a superlative grasp of the ADA requirements, they also have the technology, techniques, and experience needed.
The internet is moving towards disability-inclusive connectivity. Don’t let your company be the last to adapt to this change.