With the rising numbers of lawsuits filed against many business owners for not having web-accessible sites, it is no wonder that ADA Web Compliance has been a hot topic in recent years.
What is ADA Website Compliance?
ADA Compliance refers to meeting the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. This act not only covers accessibility of websites and applications but of any electronic information technology, like the internet.
Just like how businesses with storefronts or property have to comply with onsite ADA regulations like adding wheelchair-accessible ramps and handicap parking spaces, it is no different with your website.
According to the US Census Bureau Reports (2012), there are nearly 1 in 5 people that have disabilities in the U.S. alone. That is a whole population that you may not be serving by not properly ensuring your site is meeting web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0 and 2.1).
Risks of your site not being ADA compliant
Just like how there would be consequences from not following ADA regulations in your storefront, there are consequences from having a non-compliant website.
Failing to meet ADA compliance puts you at risk of a lawsuit, first-time violations, for example, receive $55,000-$75,000 fines, while repeat violations come with a $150,000 fine. Besides a lawsuit, you risk losing out on potential business from not being able to properly serve those customers with disabilities. Finally, you risk hurting your brand image. If word gets out that you are not ADA compliant then that may impact the opinion and future purchase decisions of your customers or potential customers.
How to check if your website is ADA Compliant
One of the easiest ways to check your compliance status is by utilizing a free website accessibility scanner or auditor. You will find many websites advertising this service, but my personal favorite one is Accessibe’s aCe website scanner.
All you do is enter your domain URL and a report will automatically populate with a summary view of your status. This program will check to see if you are ADA and WCAG compliant and let you know what areas of your website you need to improve on.
How to make your website ADA compliant
1. Fix errors on your websites with an in-house team or outside developer.
This is where the team has come together to put together a display of all the work they’ve done and explore future collateral ideas and possibilities. Take the time to find and/or purchase nice mockups – it makes all the difference in the world – when your client visualizes how your creative will live in real-life environments. Create your own mockups – these will be used over and over and has the advantage to further demonstrate a consistent aesthetic to the brand.
2. Install an ADA compliance plugin (for WordPress sites only).
If your website is built on WordPress then you have an easy but not full-proof solution. Although this may be a cost-effective solution since some of these plugins are free, not all plugins are created equal. When looking for an ADA plugin you want to make sure that it is complying with all the regulations and not just applying some of the regulations. You also want to see if the plugin is regularly updated to make sure it stays updated with all the regulations.
3. Install ADA Compliance AI software on your website.
When you type in ADA website compliance on Google you may notice multiple ads from companies with software to automatically fix and make your site compliant with their AI technology. I have seen this as well. I have also noticed the rise in websites using these services. You’ll notice these websites because they tend to have a disability icon on the left or right bottom side of their website like the image below.
This solution is more for the consumer who wants to set it and forget it and have the peace of mind that the software is ensuring that your site is ADA compliant even when you periodically make changes on your website.
Two of the most popular and successful AI solutions out there for ADA compliance are AccessiBe and Userway.
AccessiBe is a fully automated technology that utilized AI to achieve web compliance. Installation is very simple, all you need to do is install a piece of code to your site and you are set to go. After installation, AccessiBe starts scanning and analyzing the website. After 48 hours, your site is internally fully transformed and certified for compliance. To ensure your site is continually compliant the AI technology scans the website every 24 hours and fixes any available revision.
Userway on the other hand offers both automation and manual solutions. Its automated AI solution functions similar to AccessiBle except it does not scan your site every 24 hours and automatically fixes any new violations. Instead, it offers manual scans that pinpoint any deep coding violations that you can give to a developer to fix.
Importance of ADA Compliant Websites
All in all, regardless of your industry, your website could not only be at risk, but your business could be losing out on servicing a percentage of people due to the lack of ADA accessibility on your website. Whether you have a website or are in the process of having it created, it’s important to keep accessibility solutions in mind.