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Do You Have an ADA Compliant Website? Don’t Wait Too long

By Blaine Thompson on May 15, 2022

 Is your business risking many thousands of dollars in fines without you even being aware of it because you don’t have an ADA compliant website?

If your business is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it could be fined up to $75,000 for the first violation and $150,000 for additional violations under federal law. And maybe additional fines under state and local laws.

Businesses that are open to the public but don’t enable suitable “public accommodation” so the disabled can access them make themselves vulnerable to fines and lawsuits.

And we aren’t just talking about installing ramps for wheelchairs and other adjustments at the location of your physical premises. We are talking about your website.

Increasingly Likely Businesses Will Be Cited

Federal circuit courts differ somewhat in their rulings, and some have not addressed it at all. It is expected, however, that courts will become stricter in this area, because the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued website accessibility guidelines in March 2022.

Here’s why that is significant. Some courts were hesitant to fine businesses because they did not have DOJ guidelines to follow. Now that excuse is out the window.

The First, Seventh and Ninth Circuits have all ruled that “public accommodation” is not limited to physical locations. In other words, the ADA applies to business websites under certain conditions. The parameters of when the ADA will be enforced vary, but they are expected to become broader rather than narrower.

The DOJ website accessibility guidelines say “the Department has consistently taken the position that the ADA’s requirements apply to all the goods, services, privileges, or activities offered by public accommodations, including those offered on the web.”

If your website is not currently accessible to the disabled, you will want to consult with your lawyer. Today. If you don’t have an ADA compliant website, you are taking a big risk with your business.

Are There Any Other Reasons to Make My Website Accessible?

A Larger Customer Pool

Around 61 million adults in the US have disabilities which include visual, hearing and motor skill disabilities. Many of these people will not be able to navigate your website unless you take steps to make it accessible. Why wouldn’t you want to offer your products and services to more people who want them?

A Better Image

Taking steps to accommodate the disabled says your company cares about its customers. Conversely, if your company is fined for violating the ADA or becomes the target of litigation, your reputation will take a nosedive.

What Do I Need to Do to Have an ADA Compliant Website?

The DOJ has published guidelines, but you will want to look at how people use your website and do what you can to enable those with visual, hearing or motor skills disabilities to take the same journey. The DOJ provides a number of examples, but you need not stop there.

What Are Some Common Website Barriers to the Disabled?

The DOJ Guidelines mention that people use a variety of methods to navigate the Internet.  Blind people may use screen readers that read text to them. Deaf people might use captioning. Those with motor skills disabilities may find it hard to use a mouse, but they may be able to use a website set up so they can navigate with a keyboard or with voice recognition software.

They also list examples of website accessibility barriers. Here are specific barriers the DOJ mentions that you will want to address:

  • Poor color contrast: People who are color blind or have limited vision may not be able to read text if there is not enough contrast between the text and the background.
  • Use of color alone to give information: Many charts are color-coded. This is a nightmare for those who are color blind unless the chart adds explanatory text.
  • Lack of “alt text” on images:  Alt text is text you add so if the image does not appear, the alt text describes what it is. Text readers can also read alt text to blind people.  usually added in case
  • No captions on videos: If you are not captioning your videos, you are losing your that part of your audience who has hearing difficulties.
  • Inaccessible online forms: Online forms can be impossible to navigate for some people with disabilities. You can make your forms accessible with
    • Labels that can be read by screen readers to indicate information such as where to enter a credit card number.
    • Clear instructions
    • Error indicators for when a form is not completed correctly
  • Mouse-only navigation: People with motor skills disabilities may have trouble using a mouse or trackpad. Therefore, you will want to be sure people can completely navigate your website with a keyboard and never have to use a mouse.

How Can I Make My Website More Accessible?

There is a wide range of technology today that can help you make your website accessible. Check out this previous blog post offering website accessibility tips as well as the Umbrella Local Website Accessibility Service page.

Can Umbrella Local Help Make My ADA Compliant Website?

Umbrella Local knows website accessibility compliance is going to become an increasingly hot issue. That’s why Umbrella Local marketing experts undertake training in helping their clients with ADA Compliant Websites.

 

t’s to your business’s benefit to make your website ADA-compliant right away in order to avoid fines and litigation but also to better serve your customers. Umbrella Local offers website accessibility services that will enable you to comply with legal standards and better serve your customers.  Call us at 1 (872) 242-1231 or complete this web form to contact us.

 

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