Does my Website Need to be ADA Compliant?
The legalities of your website needing to be ADA compliant are a little bit murky, but there are definitely advantages to being ADA compliant. First, we need to start with what ADA compliant means. ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was created so that all Americans can participate in public life without discrimination. This act covers accommodations that must be made in government services, by employers, and by businesses offering a public service or retail experience.
The ADA was passed in 1990. Clearly the landscape of online businesses and websites has changed dramatically since then. While it has been updated, the ADA still does not contain language regarding public websites. This means the legality of having an ADA compliant website is up for interpretation. However, there have been number of civil lawsuits that set the precedent for websites needing to be ADA compliant. According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, “The number of U.S. lawsuits alleging that websites, apps and digital videos were inaccessible to people with disabilities rose 64% in the first half of 2021 from a year earlier…” You can certainly avoid legal headaches and expenses if your site is ADA compliant, but there are plenty of other reasons to put in the extra effort.
The most obvious advantage of being ADA compliant, is that your website will be inclusive and accessible to a wider audience. People with disabilities have a right to navigate the web, and should be able to do it in a manner that works for them. ADA compliance sets the standard for us to follow.
Being ADA compliant will ultimately benefit your business. Whether you offer online retail services, or your website is a means to provide information about your in-person services or brick and mortar retail site, being ADA compliant means reaching more people. Reaching more people results in more business. According to Forbes Magazine, “the global disability market is nearly $7 trillion.” Americans account for $200 billion. If you are missing this market, you are missing out on significant potential sales.
There is more good news! ADA compliance will not impact your user interface, or make your website any more difficult to use for clients not requiring accommodations. In fact, ADA compliance should make your site easier for everyone to use. Many of the ADA accommodations are simple such as using higher contrasts, font placement, and fillable form design. Others accommodations are a little more complicated such as media alternatives. You will want help from your web developer to ensure your website is accessible. At Tandem Design Lab we are familiar with best practices and can update your site so that it is accessible.
Making your website ADA compliant may take a little effort and expense up front, but ultimately it will give you a better quality website. You will also be contributing to a more inclusive environment.