Does My Website Need to Be ADA-Compliant? (What to Know)

VIDEO

11 minute video

According to the CDC, 26% of the United States population is disabled in one way or another, and this number will only increase in the foreseeable future. So, how can marketing professionals and business owners reach these people and ensure they’re included in their target demographics? Two words: digital accessibility. Being inclusive to people with disabilities […]

Video Transcript

According to the CDC, 26% of the United States population is disabled in one way or another, and this number will only increase in the foreseeable future.

So, how can marketing professionals and business owners reach these people and ensure they’re included in their target demographics? Two words: digital accessibility.

Being inclusive to people with disabilities begins with making your or your client’s websites accessible.

Even small changes, such as larger text, avoiding certain colors, and providing captions, can make a difference in your website compliance.

In this guide, we’ll cover the importance of having an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant website and how to get there.

What Does It Mean to Be ADA-Compliant?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 and is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, public accommodations, and access to public spaces and services.

Regarding digital accessibility, the ADA standards require that websites and digital content be equally accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities.

This is viewed as public accommodations and encompasses visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities.

Digital accessibility involves websites, tools, and technologies that are designed so that people with disabilities can use them and have full and equal enjoyment.

This means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the website without another person helping them.

ADA compliance isn’t just a legal requirement; it’s a commitment to inclusivity and equal access.

By prioritizing accessibility, your business will demonstrate a dedication to serving all users and fostering a more inclusive online environment where everyone, regardless of ability, can engage with digital content seamlessly.

Does My Website Really Need to Be ADA-Compliant?

Websites should be ADA-compliant.
Websites should be ADA-compliant.

In short, yes.

Navigating the labyrinth of web accessibility and mandatory ADA compliance can feel daunting, but don’t be dissuaded by the legal landscape and technical standards that are all part of how you achieve ADA compliance. 

Utilizing things like an ADA compliance checklist can help you understand the necessity of ADA compliance and digital accessibility guidelines that are pivotal for businesses to ensure accessibility.

While the ADA itself doesn’t explicitly mention website accessibility, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has clarified that websites qualify as places of public accommodation.

This makes website owners responsible for following web content accessibility guidelines—but don’t panic. We’re here to demystify the process of your web content accessible for people with disabilities.

Is ADA Compliance Mandatory?

ADA compliance is mandatory for most websites, particularly for two key categories:

  • Websites associated with state or local governments.
  • Those linked to businesses.

The surge in ADA-related lawsuits, peaking at a record 3,255 in 2022, signifies how critical it is to achieve ADA compliance.

These lawsuits, whether against businesses (Title III claims) or government entities (Title II claims), underscore the imperative of ensuring web accessibility for all.

Is There a Risk of Non-Compliance?

The staggering increase in ADA-related lawsuits and demand letters regarding web accessibility issues over recent years paints a stark picture.

Between 2017 and 2021, the number of ADA-related lawsuits and demand letters increased by over 400%.

These legal actions not only highlight the pervasive nature of accessibility barriers for people with disabilities but also signify the financial risks associated with non-compliance for businesses.

What Are the ADA Guidelines and Standards?

While the ADA lacks specific technical standards for web accessibility, the DOJ recommends adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to evaluate digital web content accessibility guidelines.

The WCAG isn’t codified into law, but past rulings have set WCAG as the benchmark for providing web accessibility to people with disabilities.

How Can I Ensure Compliance?

Achieving ADA compliance often aligns with conforming to WCAG 2.0 AA. These guidelines offer a detailed framework to ensure an accessible browsing experience for all users.

Utilizing checklists based on WCAG 2.0 AA standards can kickstart your website owner’s journey toward compliance.

For businesses lacking the expertise or resources to address accessibility issues, seeking assistance becomes crucial.

Marketing agencies, like Dia Creative, can come alongside business owners to fix accessibility issues on their websites.

Through comprehensive testing, automated tools, manual repairs, and continuous monitoring, you can be confident that you’re meeting digital accessibility requirements without having to manage the process all on your own.

What Types of Websites Need to Be ADA-Compliant?

Understanding which websites fall under the purview of ADA requirements is crucial in ensuring equal access and avoiding potential legal ramifications.

Here’s a breakdown of the types of websites that typically require ADA compliance:

1. Government Websites

Websites associated with state or local government entities fall within the scope of ADA compliance.

These encompass portals for:

  • Government services.
  • Local governments.
  • Public libraries.
  • Educational institutions.
  • Parks.

…And other publicly funded entities.

2. Business Websites

Websites operated by private businesses or commercial entities also come under the ADA’s umbrella.

This includes the following:

  • E-commerce websites open to platforms.
  • Corporate websites.
  • Online service providers.

…And any digital space offering goods or services to the public.

3. Educational Websites

Platforms providing educational content, whether they belong to schools, universities, or online learning institutions, must ensure ADA compliance.

4. Healthcare Websites

Websites related to healthcare services, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and online forms and health information sites, fall under ADA compliance requirements.

5. Entertainment and Hospitality Websites

Platforms offering entertainment, such as movie theaters, concert venues, hotels, and restaurants, must prioritize ADA compliance to better serve people with disabilities.

6. Non-Profit and Advocacy Websites

Websites operated by non-profit organizations and advocacy groups aiming to serve the public or promote social causes should prioritize website accessibility.

7. Any Website Offering Goods or Services to the Public

Regardless of industry or sector, if a website offers goods, services, or information to the public, this is considered a public accommodation under the law.

What Happens if My Website Isn’t ADA-Compliant?

If your website isn't ADA-compliant, you could face severe consequences.
If your website isn’t ADA-compliant, you could face severe consequences.

Now that you’re well versed in how the ADA’s requirements apply to the compliance mandatory for websites, let’s break down what can happen if your website isn’t Americans with Disabilities Act compliant:

  • Legal Action: Potential lawsuits, fines, and settlements due to accessibility issues.
  • Financial Impact: Heavy legal fees, settlements, and website updates expenses.
  • Reputation Damage: Loss of trust, negative brand perception, and reduced customer loyalty.
  • Limited Reach: Exclusion of users with disabilities, reducing audience and customer base significantly.
  • Missed Opportunities: Lost engagement, conversions, and potential business growth due to lack of website accessibility.

How Do I Make My Website ADA-Compliant?

Now that you know the ins and outs of creating a more accessible website, we’re going to dive into how you can implement this new knowledge into your website.

From screen reader software to text alternatives, here’s a detailed roadmap to help you along your journey to be accessible:

1. Using Headers for Your Pages

Using the standard headers can help make the text easier for screen readers to read and understand.

Just because it looks good doesn’t mean everyone can read it! Sites like WordPress and Squarespace both have options for standard headers for your website.

2. Ensure Your Website Can Be Navigated Via Keyboard

Many people with mobility disabilities cannot use a mouse and rely on keyboard keys to navigate computers and, in turn, websites.

Creating a website that can be navigated via keyboard can increase your audience and create an inclusive environment.

3. Voice Recognition and Reading

People with visual disabilities use devices that allow text to be narrated to them

Creating or redesigning your website in a way that allows text-to-speech will benefit those who are unable to read the text.

4. Provide Alt-Txt for Images

Alternative text can also be helpful for your customers with visual disabilities. Describing the images of the products will increase the rates of your sales conversions due to being fully accessible.

5. Include Video Captions

If your website has videos or audio content, creating captions for what is being said or heard can benefit your deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.

When you make web content more accessible in this way, businesses open the opportunity for disabled users to interact with the content and become recurring visitors because your website is accessible to them.

6. Increase Color Contrast

People with limited vision cannot read text that doesn’t have significant contrast between the text and background.

For example, light gray text on a light-colored background. Increasing color contrast will provide a more accessible experience for all website visitors.

Looking for more ways to master your marketing? Check out this video by Dia Creative:

How Dia Creative Can Help

At Dia Creative, we’re passionate about supporting businesses as they work to ensure they’re accessible to all consumers.

We offer services, including redesigning your website to make it Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

Our marketing experts will work with you to incorporate public accommodations features like:

  • Adding alt-text to images
  • Updating text color to provide better contrast and visibility
  • Adding headers to make your website screen reader-friendly
  • Adding captions to all audio files and videos

…And more!


Frequently Asked Questions

When Do Websites Have to Be ADA-Compliant?

Websites need to be ADA-compliant to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Regardless of industry or sector, if a website offers goods, services, or information to the public, this is considered a public accommodation under the law.

How Do I Make My Website ADA-Compliant?

Utilizing features such as headers, alt-text, captions, high-contrast text, voice recognition, and the ability to be accessible by keyboard is a great place to start making your website comply with the legal requirements of ADA standards.


In Conclusion

The ADA’s reach extends to various types of websites, necessitating adherence to accessibility standards like WCAG to ensure an inclusive digital landscape.

Working to bring your website into alignment with digital accessibility standards is about embracing inclusivity and access for all users.

To ensure your website meets ADA standards and fosters inclusivity, consider a comprehensive accessibility audit and website enhancements with Dia Creative’s team of experts.

Reach out to us today to create a more inclusive digital space.

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