You’ve surely heard of or read about “accessibility”. Or, maybe the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. Maybe you have wondered whether you need to be concerned about it. You should be. “The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation,” (ADA.gov). It probably applies to your business and your website. Why should you build an Accessible ADA compliant website?
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The ADA, passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities. And, it makes sure they have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The act covers everything from jobs and schools to transportation and public/private places open to the public. The ADA requires certain businesses to make accommodations for people with disabilities. To make sure everyone has equal access to services, businesses, buildings, and more.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. It required all electronic and information technology, like websites, be accessible to those with disabilities. Disabilities include things like vision impairment and hearing loss.
As of 2021, if your business is considered a “place of public accommodation”, it must comply with the standards ADA sets. As a result, almost any commercial enterprise will fall under these standards.
- Businesses that fall under Title I, those that operate 20 or more weeks per year with at least 15 full-time employees; or Title III, those that fall under the category of “public accommodation,” are covered by the ADA.
- Failure to create an accessible ADA compliant website could open a business to lawsuits, financial liabilities, and damage to your brand reputation.
However, it isn’t just for-profit enterprises that need to be concerned. For example, museums, daycare centers, libraries, zoos, and others are also required to comply.
Why should your website be ADA compliant?
The benefits actually go far beyond just avoiding lawsuits, as beneficial as that is. More importantly, the things that make your site accessible also make it more friendly to search engines. As a result, it will be more usable to those with and without disabilities. In both cases, those things will help improve your search rankings, increase sales as a result. So, making the site accessible is a good decision that should just become a part of your development process. It’s the right thing to do for everyone in your audience who could benefit from your ADA compliance.
However, maybe you’re thinking that your site is too small to be called out for non-compliance. It isn’t just the government you need to be concerned about. There are increasing numbers of lawsuits that are being brought by firms who seek out sites that are not compliant. If you’re a small site with low traffic the risk may be low, but it’s no guarantee. It’s a much better idea to just make your site accessible, the benefits far outweigh the costs of becoming ADA compliant.
How do you get started with making your site accessible?
The process of creating an Accessible ADA compliant website varies. Based on whether you are starting a new site or bringing an older one into compliance, it will be different . Starting from scratch is easier since you can build out the various pieces as the pages are assembled. If you’re working with an existing site the process is more involved. You’ll need to do a thorough audit of the site to identify the gaps and put a plan together to remediate them.
There are several tools available to help with improving the accessibility of your site. A Google search for “accessibility audit” will turn up several tools to pick from. After you have created a full list of changes or improvements to your site, you’ll need to start the process of cleaning things up. It’s a good idea to work your way through the list, testing as you complete tasks to see how your score is improving.
When the edits are complete, and your audits come back looking good, you’ll need an accessibility statement. It confirms your commitment to accessibility and provides contact information. Anyone who might identify an issue in the future and wants to let you know about it, will use it. The only piece remaining is to set up ongoing tests to maintain compliance. As the content of your site is expanded and edited, you will continue the process.
Need help with accessible ADA compliant development?
If the idea of getting your content compliant feels overwhelming, consider getting help. Many firms that do site development are also doing accessibility work. You’ll also get the benefit of having someone who can look the site over and address other issues you might have.
It could be a good time to consider redesigning or adding additional functionality to the site. Things like responsive design to make the site function well on all devices. In conclusion, however you choose to manage it, making your websites accessible and ADA compliant is an important function. As a result, it’s one that you need to find a place for.
Struggling with the design and accessibility of your company’s website? Looking to have your current site evaluated? Niche is here to help! Visit our Services page and give us a call to schedule a website consultation: 443-787-4951