Many business owners are now learning about the need to have Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant websites.
Even conscientious and sincere owners who want to proactively make their online presence more accessible find that there are no “official” guidelines or regulations that give them the answers they need. Ironically the same government who implemented the ADA in 1990 still has not provided guidance on the website issue. Having said that, there are still important considerations that should be understood, addressed and implemented.
What You Should Know….
ADA Title I requires all companies that operate at least 20 weeks a year or have 15 full-time employees must have a compliant website so that those with sight, hearing or physical disabilities can access easily. Sites must have assistive technologies that provide accommodation and access to content on the website.
Numerous cases have been brought and won against companies with non-compliant websites.
The Benefits of ADA Compliant Websites
An ADA compliant website will reach potential customers that have hearing, sight, or physical disabilities thereby increasing sale opportunities. Companies can openly claim that they have invested in a compliant site as good corporate citizens.
Website SEO is enhanced by virtue of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). User Experience (UX) is upgraded and becomes more easily navigable and will function better with WCAG.
The Downside of Non-Compliance
There are law firms that comb the internet for websites that are not ADA compliant and institute lawsuits. Such lawsuits have cost companies tens of thousands of dollars in penalties. Companies have incurred the web development costs to build an ADA site that meets at least the standard of good faith effort. Lawsuits can damage the reputation of even the best-run companies.
There are a limited number of software programs that will survey your site and assess how good or bad your website in terms of compliance. This is something you need to know so that you can take the appropriate action. Not all websites need to be rebuilt from scratch, but you need an expert to provide that advice.
Don’t wait until you get the e-mail or phone call telling you your website is not ADA compliant.