Disability affects 1 in 4 Americans. Is your website accessible to them?
What is ADA Compliance?
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is often associated with physical locations and accommodations certain businesses must make for people with disabilities. You might think of wheelchair accessibility or Braille for visually-impaired customers. However, ADA also extends to the digital sphere.
ADA Compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. In 2010, the United States Department of Justice passed these digital accessibility standards for all public organizations to follow, so those with disabilities have access to all electronic information and technology. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that mandates the inclusion of all people, especially those with disabilities, in all sectors of public life.
Who Needs to Follow ADA Compliance?
ADA Compliance is sometimes confused with 508 Compliance, which strictly applies to federal agencies and federal departments. On the other hand, ADA Compliance applies to the general public, specifically to businesses, nonprofits, local governments, and state governments. In short, if your business or organization caters to the general public, then your website must be ADA Compliant.
Since ADA Compliance broadly encompasses all electronic information and technology, which includes the Internet and the websites on it, it is more likely than not that your website needs to be ADA Compliant.
Who is Responsible for ADA Compliance?
In most cases of noncompliance, it is completely unintentional. Even though website owners aren’t intentionally ignoring these standards, they will be held completely liable. Every website owner is solely responsible for developing a website that offers “reasonable accessibility.” Regardless of who builds and develops the website, it is the website owner that is responsible for implementing the accessibility standards and personally liable for noncompliance.
What Happens if Your Website Isn’t ADA Compliant?
Failure to meet ADA Compliance can result in lawsuits, legal fees, hefty fines, potential settlements, public relations problems, and damage to your brand reputation. Even if website owners are unaware of ADA Compliance standards, they will still be held completely liable. First-time violations can result in fines from $55,000-$75,000 and then a $150,000 fine for every repeat violation. In addition to these fines, citizens can file lawsuits against your business or organization for being unable to access it, which could result in a large settlement.
If your website is not ADA Compliant, you can end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and lawsuits. What can you do?
Becoming ADA Compliant
Maintaining an ADA-compliant website helps protect your business against potential lawsuits and fines in addition to providing inclusive accommodations for all of your customers. ADA-compliant websites expand audience reach, enrich SEO efforts, improve brand reputation, enhance user experience, and offer businesses tax benefits.
But what does an ADA-complaint website look like exactly? Well, there are no clear regulations. However, websites must make an effort to offer “reasonable accessibility” to people with disabilities. Unlike ADA Compliance, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) isn’t a legal requirement. However, it provides helpful recommendations for businesses looking to improve their digital accessibility. WCAG focuses on assisting individuals with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments. Some digital accommodations include: providing text alternative for images,providing transcript or captions for audio and video content, allowing keyboard navigation and operation, and more.
By making a good-faith effort to achieve reasonable accessibility for people with disabilities, businesses can avoid potential fines, lawsuits, and losing valued customers.
Does your business need help becoming ADA Compliant?
Sun Sign Designs offers a full suite of digital accessibility solutions to help your website meet ADA Compliance. There’s no need to overhaul your website and rewrite code—we will seamlessly integrate our AI-powered accessibility widget into your website. We offer a secure and easy compliance solution that doesn’t require reworking your entire site.
To find out more about ADA website compliance and how you can protect your business, contact Sun Sign Designs today!