If you aren’t a lawyer or an expert in online accessibility, it may be quite difficult to figure out how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) relates to websites. Compliance requirements are sometimes written in dense blocks of legal jargon and technical terminology, which may be difficult to understand. Let us work together and alleviate your stress by exploring ADA compliance.
This article will explain what ADA compliance is, which websites are required by law to comply with the law, why there are no official technical guidelines for people to follow, some “unofficial” directions that will help deliver accessible sites, and what will happen if your site is found to be inaccessible to people with disabilities.
Table of Contents
What Is ADA Compliance?
ADA compliance refers to meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s Standards for Accessible Design. This implies that all digital content, including your website, must be easily navigable and used by people with impairments.
It’s easy to mistake the ADA for Section 508, but the ADA is different because it is a civil law that requires all individuals, including those with disabilities, to be included in all aspects of public life. That goes for any public area, whether it be a workplace, a school, a mode of transportation, or anywhere else. Websites and content are required to be accessible by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but the Act’s broader guidelines apply to people in a wide range of situations and settings.
Section 508 & ADA
The goals of Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act are identical. The only difference is that Section 508 compliance is a federal requirement that applies to government purchases and this includes business firms that do business with the federal government. In addition, businesses that take government grants or contracts must be WCAG compliant and prioritize online accessibility.
ADA, Section 508 & WCAG
Section 508 and ADA are based on the WCAG guidelines and help developers and organizations to make their web content accessible to everyone.
Is ADA mandatory for my website?
Do you have to follow ADA guidelines if they are mandatory in all public areas? Almost every company and web developer has to ensure their sites are accessible to people with disabilities since the ADA covers all forms of electronic information and technology, including the internet and all of the websites on it.
Here are some examples of where ADA is applicable to help you understand it better:
- Organizations of the state and municipal governments
- Private companies with at least 15 workers
- Businesses that Title III considers to be places of public accommodation
- Organizations that serve the general public (e.g., public transportation, schools, restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, hotels, banks, accountant offices, law offices, social service centers, gyms, healthcare providers, the United States Postal Service, etc.)
Even if your business is exempt from ADA regulations, you still have a moral obligation to ensure that your website is accessible to all visitors.
What will happen if my website is not ADA-compliant?
The failure to adhere to ADA regulations is usually unintentional. Nothing else matters, however, since a non-compliant website might result in a costly lawsuit. You might be prosecuted for thousands of dollars if your website is inaccessible to certain users, even if you didn’t mean to violate the Department of Justice’s regulations.
For failing to adhere to ADA compliance rules, you will additionally be subject to the following in addition to a lawsuit:
- Legal expenses
- Prospective settlement
- Public Relations (PR) problems
- The price of redeveloping your website to be compliant
Finally, you may lose consumers if your website is not accessible to people with disabilities. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of disabled persons grows by the millions every few years. Over 56 million individuals worldwide had some kind of disability in 2010, thus there are a lot of people who might be excluded because of poor accessibility.
How can my website become ADA-compliant?
Justice Department guidance states that “violation with [WCAG 2.0 AA] for online accessibility does not necessarily signal noncompliance with the ADA,” although WCAG 2.0 AA compliance is still the recommended path forward.
After all, WCAG 2.0 AA gives you a comprehensive plan for making your site accessible to everyone, and it’s the norm you’ll be required to follow under an ADA settlement or consent order.
At AEL Data, we have a team of specialists who carefully audit each web page to identify accessibility issues and remediate them. We also offer post-project transition support plans to ease your team into tackling issues when you go live.
Click here to schedule your free call today.