If your website isn’t ADA compliant you’re loosing 20% of the population and your business is at risk for lawsuits that you can’t win.
Web accessibility is a set of rules, behaviors, code standards and design guidelines, that are meant to allow people with disabilities to effectively use websites.
PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS
- 300% increase in lawsuits and demand letters since 2018
- DOJ confirms ADA applies to websites since November 2018
- 2019 tripled 2018 in papers served
- Over 150,000 demand letters served to businesses since 2017
- 93% of demand letters settle out of court for $20,000 to $150,000 on average
- 7% of businesses fight and lose in court
- 25% of websites sued more than once
THE BOTTOM LINE - GET PROTECTED OR GET SUED
The good news - It only costs $50 per month to protect yourself from frivolous lawsuits.
The internet has become the leading platform for almost everyone from the disconnected wild west. You get your news, entertainment, work, and communications here. With that, it’s safe to say that the internet has come a long way.
While the internet is available for anyone, that doesn’t mean everyone has the same opportunities.
Many discrimination issues are ever-present on the internet and in real life, and people still report this every day, whether of race, religion, or sex. One of the ones you hear less about, though, is people with disabilities. Although things like the Americans with Disabilities Act are in place, enforcing them is another matter.
What is the ADA Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law passed by the US government during the 1990s. The law stipulates that no public service or entity can discriminate against a person with disabilities for their service. That means they must have the same access as everyone else.
The original law applies to employment, public services, and telecommunications but did not apply to the internet. Since the early 2000s, though, the government publicly acknowledges that ADA applies to the internet.
While they acknowledge it, the problem is the court does not stipulate what enforcing ADA online looks like. Without clear guidelines, it falls to the website to implement these laws on its own.
Unfortunately for people with disabilities, most websites don’t know what to do.
The general idea is that websites have to take into consideration disabilities. Blindness, epilepsy, blurred vision, and other physical problems are the most common issues. So when creating a website, you have to make sure it’s friendly to people with these problems.
Either that or they won’t make any serious efforts to ensure there is ADA compliance. However, that can lead to more problems than you think. You leave yourself open to problems down the line by ignoring them altogether.
Issues With Not Complying with ADA
Now for many websites, there is an idea that it doesn’t matter if you take steps to adhere to making sure your website is ADA compliant. After all, if companies have no guidelines and the government doesn’t know what counts for ADA, it seems rather pointless.
But it is these grey areas where the problems arise. Since there is no clear definition, you have more chances of getting in trouble. The chances of you getting in trouble are much higher because people are more willing to take action since the law doesn’t protect you.
The simplest and most important reason to make your website design ADA compliant is that it’s the right thing to do. Everyone has the right to access the internet and all the websites, to the extent that internet access is a human right.
There is some truth to it too. The internet is becoming a tool for a better life and a necessity because of its uses. To cut someone out from that because of ableism has many moral issues, which is why laws like this are in place.
If the government doesn’t know how to do that, it doesn’t mean people are free from the responsibility of upholding it.
If anything, that means it is up to content creators to ensure that these people get the same opportunities as everyone else.
While some people might agree with the sentiment of shouldering the responsibility for the government, it is still the ethical thing to do.
You Can Lose Popularity
Many websites think they can get away with avoiding precautions like this, but they should think again. With the interconnectedness of the internet, it’s easier than ever to expose issues like this.
Hearing of a website being racist or sexist is not a rare occurrence. People do not like to be discriminated against, and they will talk. When that happens, it’s not just the people with disabilities who will get upset.
If they think you discriminate against this community, their friends, family, and allies will turn against you. The result is losing considerable amounts of traffic and potential customers, all of which are easily avoidable. Some say that as much as 20% of people will avoid your website if this is the case.
Even just making an effort to address these issues can help. If people see you trying to comply with ADA compliant guidelines, they will be more forgiving than if you don’t.
Getting criticized online isn’t the only thing that can happen to you without being ADA compliant, and you can also potentially get sued. As a law, not adhering to this can mean that a person with a disability can sue you.
It takes one injury or a reason to believe they are getting discriminated against to bring lawyers out. This is not an idle threat either. Since the ADA applies to websites, many people have a decent case. In the past few years, there have been over 150,000 cases of suites.
Of the 150,000 lawsuits, 93% end with an out-of-court settlement in favor of the accuser. The payments can range anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000. All of this is from simply not taking basic steps to avoid discrimination.
Of the 7% who take it to court, the chances of success are not good at all, but a handful wins these cases. What’s more, these numbers are only increasing and are expected to keep going up.
What Can You Do to Get ADA Compliant
As you can see, the risk of a lawsuit is not an idle one, and there is a precedence and a relatively high success rate of it happening. To avoid that from happening, you should take every possible precaution. But the question you are probably wondering is what you can do about that?
One of the best ways to make sure you comply with the ADA is by having a professional check your website out. While the government doesn’t have strict guidelines on what to do, the issue is pretty standard.
For professionals, that means there is data that they can look over. Entire companies build their business on that idea and study the data. Here they can look at trends and issues to see what people expect from a website.
They can find trends and base their suggestions on that. They can discover trends and base their recommendations on them. They will look over your website and see what areas you can improve. You can then make changes to improve the content and allow easier access.
The people who audit you aren’t just web experts. They also have lawyers who can provide their input, and they can explain scenarios and precedents of legal issues to show how this might go.
Install New Tools
With the internet making things more accessible, making changes to your website is easier than ever. New tools can make addressing issues a breeze and do far more. Devices can update software and make changes to the layout, among other things.
There is even AI technology that will scan through your entire webpage. These will let you know of things that might have functionality issues against ADA. It will point out things that can be potential hazards to people with disabilities and make functionality easier for everyone.
What makes it even better is they will do this multiple times to make sure it leaves nothing out.
The AI understands the countless issues thanks to the data it gathers from the internet and previous cases. These programs are also relatively quick to install, taking less than five minutes to implement.
If you manage to pass the audit and these functions, you can receive certification. These certificates signify that you have official ADA compliance. For many companies, having certification like this can help both reduce lawsuits and draw in more customers.
Providing Accessibility Training
It isn’t just your web page you have to consider when fully becoming ADA compliant. Your employees also play a role in your website, and they should understand this issue as well. If you’re not careful, they could give a slipup in their work.
That is why some companies provide accessibility training to educate everyone on these issues. They have entire boot camps and online courses tied to government organizations that explain how to act.
Using this, they can help the team understand the issues and how to implement proper web designs. That knowledge extends to all parts of the design process, such as the content, appearances, and customer service.
All of this work can come off as a hassle for many people. There isn’t much reason to put effort into ADA compliance when it’s unclear what to do. But whether we like it or not, it’s the law, and we have to obey it.
More importantly, this is a law that protects the rights of others. Something like that is a fact no one should ignore. If you decide to ignore it, you can get into trouble. People are now wising up to the fact that some groups don’t get enough representation, and it’s best to make sure you and your business aren’t one of them.