In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) exists to protect the civil rights of disabled persons. For example, ADA legislation requires parks, businesses, and educational facilities to be accessible to everyone; this is why, for example, it’s necessary for public event spaces to have ramps and full wheelchair accessibility.
What you might not realize is that the ADA also has something to say about accessibility for business websites. Indeed, the law protects civil rights not just in physical spaces, but online spaces, as well. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the issue of making your company’s website ADA compliant, and also provide some simple, affordable solutions.
Do You Have to Make Your Website ADA Compliant?
To be clear, we are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice. That being said, let’s start with the law itself.
The ADA mandates that businesses provide their content and services in a way that is accessible to people who have disabilities. For the purpose of your website, this means ensuring that the content can be accessed by those who are deaf, those who are blind, or those who must navigate the Web via voice search commands.
Title I businesses are all on the hook here; that includes companies that are open for operation more than 20 weeks out of the year and have a minimum of 15 employees. Title III businesses, which fall under the heading of “public accommodation,” must also comply with the ADA.
The trouble is that while the ADA compels many businesses to create accessible websites, it doesn’t outline exactly what’s required, or what the standards of accessibility are. This hasn’t stopped many small and medium-sized companies from getting hit with lawsuits. We want to stress that it’s a growing danger: Failure to have an ADA compliant website could result in some serious legal headaches for your business.
Different Ways of Providing Accessibility
Because ADA guidelines aren’t clear on exactly what steps business owners are supposed to take, there’s a little guesswork involved in ensuring a compliant website. The rule of thumb is to take all reasonable efforts to ensure that your site can be accessed by anyone. Again, this includes those visitors who may be blind or deaf, or who may navigate the Internet through voice commands or screen readers.
So what specific steps can companies take? Some options are better than others. For example, retrofitting an existing website with ADA compliant content could run a hefty price tag, especially if it involves adding robust technologies such as a background reading app for the visually impaired, or Braille text for touchscreen users.
Some additional steps that may be necessary to develop an accessible website include:
- Creating alt-tags for all audio, image, and video files, ensuring that people can determine what the content is about by reading or hearing it described.
- Providing full text transcripts for all audio and visual content.
- Using header code to identify the site’s language, which can be an asset to text readers.
- Ensuring a consistent, logical, easy-to-follow navigation and layout.
These are all important efforts to ensure full website accessibility, even for those who have different kinds of disability. With that said, these efforts also represent a major investment of time and resources. Business owners may feel as though they are caught between two undesirable options: Facing potential lawsuits or embarking on costly website redesigns.
A Better Option for Website Accessibility
Thankfully, there is a much better solution available.
At enCOMPASS Agency, we’ve partnered with a company called accessiBe, helping our clients solve any ADA compliance issues with their websites. The solutions offered here are reasonable and affordable, and they provide the legal protection business owners need without calling for websites to be dismantled and built from scratch.
You can read more about the accessiBe technology on their website, but the gist of it is this: Through the use of AI and machine learning, the company allows you to scan your website and develop adaptive accessibility solutions. In other words, you can resolve any accessibility issues quickly and without a website rebuild; and, you can ensure full ADA compliance even on websites that are updated on a daily basis.
Learn More About Website Accessibility
This is a great, affordable, and non-disruptive way for business owners to be proactive about website accessibility, and it’s something we’re happy to offer to our clients.
We’d stress again that this is a real issue that more and more businesses are having to address, so we’d encourage you not to put this on the back burner. Ensure website accessibility sooner rather than later and avoid any unwanted legal complications.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about how all of this works, don’t hesitate to contact us. Reach out to enCOMPASS whenever you’re ready to have a chat.
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