Since the internet is at the forefront of communication, a new set of American With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance standards were adopted to serve people with disabilities seeking housing on websites or mobile apps. Developed in 1990 the ADA and is a set of guidelines and requirements meant to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as anyone else. This means any businesses serving the public must guarantee their building accommodates people with different disabilities. To avoid any new ADA complaints, your website needs to be accessible to people who have disabilities that affect their hearing, vision or physical capacities.
Recently, the Depart of Justice (DOJ) released new ADA guidelines for businesses, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Title III of the ADA mandates that all “places of public accommodation” are required by law to remove any “access barriers” that would inhibit a person with disabilities from accessing the business’ goods or services.
Not sure if your your website is ADA compliant? Skeptical on if these new ADA requirements are worth looking into? This list shows why it’s important for businesses to ensure they meet the ADA WCAG qualifications.
ADA Compliance Increases Your Target Audience
If your website is not already ADA compliant, you’re automatically missing out on millions of potential customers who cannot access your site due to their disabilities. There are nearly 50 million people with disabilities living in the U.S., which means about 19 percent of our population has a disability. Many of them might be interested in your products or services, won’t be able to navigate your website easily enough to buy anything or contact you; all because your website is only accessible to people without disabilities. Thus, they could be lost to your competitors.
For instance, if you have a video displaying the benefits of your product, but it lacks captions or subtitles, people who are deaf or hard of hearing will not learn how great your product is. The same goes for when you publish images with no alternate text. The point of alternate text is to allow screen reading tools to describe the image to a person with impaired vision; if you don’t alt-text tags, some of your audience will miss out. Similarly, it’s important to ensure your website is fully accessible without a mouse so people with physical limitations can use it.
ADA Compliance Improves Your SEO Efforts
Now, more than ever, search engines are evolving to crawl pages with more human intention. A key element of WCAG is accessibility to screen readers; these readers crawl your website pages similarly to search engines. If your website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it will equally appeal to users, search engines, and screen readers; ultimately improving your SEO efforts. For this reason alternative image text and video transcripts should be seriously considered.
ADA Compliance May Help Your Reputation
The fact that an ADA compliant website can increase your target audience by millions is just one reason to make your site more accessible. Another benefit is that not only will you get more customers, but those customers will also know how valuable they are to your business. After all, they might have gone to a few other websites that were not ADA compliant, disappointed each time that they couldn’t access the content, until they got to your website.
And once those new customers tell their friends and relatives how they found your website, more people will know you made sure to make it ADA compliant. The fact that you put this effort into ensuring everyone was included will set you apart from your competitors. Therefore, making your site ADA compliant is a great way to get some positive press for your business.
ADA Compliance Means Overall Better Website Usability
Creating a more operable and navigable website will ultimately benefit all users while still meeting WCAG guidelines. Making your web pages easier to comprehend will allow everyone – disabled or non – to find what they’re looking for quickly. If you decide to follow the guidelines, your website will likely convert more leads across the board because users will trust that they can always easily find the content they need.
You Can Avoid ADA Complaints and Penalties
The original text in the ADA failed to mention websites since this technology was not widely accessible in 1990. Now that most businesses communicate primarily through the internet, the DOJ put regulations in place to ensure websites are accessible to everyone. Since we’re past the ruling date, all updated pages on your website are required to be at least grade A complaint, with grade AAA being the highest.
Even before the guidelines were finalized, dozens of esteemed brands were recently hit with significant lawsuits. Businesses including Fordham University, Foot Locker, Brooks Brothers, and even Kylie Jenner were sued for the lack of ADA compliant websites.
Currently, a safe harbor clause exists that allows your living content to remain as it is; unless it was altered after January 18, 2018. Any pages created or edited after January 18, 2018 need to adhere to the ADA compliance guidelines. To avoid non-compliance legal costs, it’s best to make any necessary website changes immediately.
If you’re unsure where to get started, the ADA’s website has some tips. You can also contact a web design agency to find out if your website is currently ADA compliant and how you can improve it if it’s not.