ADA compliance refers to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In this regulation, it stipulates that businesses must provide a website experience which is usable for American citizens with impairments and disabilities.
The ADA is designed to make both public and private services more accessible for citizens with disabilities, making it easier for them to enjoy the same freedoms and resources that able-bodied citizens have access to.
According to the wording of the ADA: “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation”.
This means that digital properties, which include websites, must not discriminate against people with disabilities.
Websites must hence take all the necessary precautions to make their content more accessible for disabled people, no matter how minor or serious their condition. Recent updates to the ADA in 2018 mean that more and more companies are now sued because their websites aren’t suitable for the blind, which may be the very reason that some of you are reading this.
Why does ADA compliance matter?
There are many reasons that ADA compliance matters for your website, but as noted by Digital Authority Partners, the #1 reason is that it’s the “right thing to do”, with the firm stating..Although there are legal repercussions for companies who do not comply, the fact of the matter is that it’s a compassionate and ethically sound thing to do which will help you to gain support from both impaired and able-bodied customers who act as allies and supporters of those with disabilities.
Nonetheless, legal precedents have also been established in recent years, arguing that the three-decade-old ADA rules do indeed apply to websites. As a result, you are literally breaking the law if your website is not ADA compliant, and you can expect civil class action lawsuits to come flooding in if you’re not careful.
A recent piece by the New York Times goes into detail about art galleries being sued by blind people who cannot use their websites, for example.
Furthermore, if your website is wholly or partially funded by the government, you will have contracts with the US government stipulating that your website must be accessible for users with impairments. Go ahead and check your contract terms – it should be there! As a result, if you are not ADA compliant with your website, you could risk losing your federal funding and quite possibly see your website shut down.
If you find your company being forced to ensure ADA compliance by a court before a certain deadline, you could see yourself spending a lot of time and money on scrambling to suddenly fix issues and ensure compliance before the given date.
As any sensible businessperson can imagine, this distracts from the everyday running of your business and forces you to divert your attention to tasks which might not necessarily add as much value in the long run (despite being necessary). Productivity is closely linked to the performance of your business, so it’s best to sort out ADA compliance early and in a calm, stable manner.
Also, there’s one thing we’re forgetting here too – although ADA compliance may seem like an annoyance to some website developers and companies, there are millions of people in the USA who suffer from some kind of disability which may stop them from using a normal website. For instance, over 25 million people in the US have some kind of visual impairment, while over 30 million people have some kind of hearing impairment. This adds up to around 17% of the total population in the US, which is a HUGE section of your potential market.
If you’re a company whose services are applicable to a broad range of people, leaving your website inaccessible for Americans with disabilities could see you losing out on nearly 20% of your potential customer base.
What’s more, if your company has a very convenient and accessible website for people with disabilities when compared to your competitors, these customers are naturally likely to divert to your website and recommend your services for others due to your ADA compliance and serving of their needs.
The importance of ADA compliance for healthcare websites
When it comes to websites revolving around healthcare, ADA compliance is absolutely unavoidable, as a high percentage of the people using the websites will indeed have a disability of some kind. ADA compliance for healthcare websites is no laughing matter, with the government recognizing that these healthcare-related websites are prime candidates for ADA compliance who should have their compliance in order before anyone else.
As noted by Healthcare Weekly: “Given that healthcare is of paramount importance to Americans with a disability, ADA non-compliance can land you in hot soup, including having to pay steep fines of up to $150,000 (or more depending on the gravity of non-compliance).”
Healthcare is a contentious issue in the US as it is, and websites which claim to be helping citizens with their healthcare are insulting their customers if they do not comply with ADA regulations, to be frank. If healthcare websites refuse to comply with ADA Title III, they risk putting their professional reputation on the line.
The bottom line
With so many companies facing lawsuits over ADA compliance, including the likes of Beyoncé, there’s no time like the present to get your website up to date and accessible for users who are impaired either visually or audibly. Ensure that your website is ADA compliant today or risk a potentially expensive civil class action lawsuit! Or check out this list of companies that can help you figure out what you need to do with your website to be ADA compliant.
This article comes from Codrin Arsene, CEO @ Digital Authority Partners, a Chicago-based marketing company