An ADA Compliant Website is a Legal Must-Have

October 23, 2019 | 253 views

An ADA Compliant Website is a Legal Must-Have
An ADA Compliant Website is a Legal Must-Have

Here’s the simple fact: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that any business providing a service to the public cannot discriminate against people with disabilities. Usually, we think of this in terms of eliminating stairs for those with mobility issues or modifying bathrooms to accommodate wheelchairs. However, this also applies to website accessibility. Lawsuits could be brought by anyone who legitimately felt they are unable to access your product or service online. 

Awards for plaintiffs who have been limited in their online access start at close to six figures. If you’re like most small to medium businesses, that kind of penalty would be disastrous. Of course, the web design and improvements have a cost, too. Still, it is better to be compliant and have open availability to prospective customers, regardless of their disability, than to find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

What does this mean for small businesses? Lots of things to include and build into your site. No one wants a lawsuit, but we especially don’t want to turn away potential customers. If you’re not sure how much you might be excluding someone based on their disability, it is time to find a knowledgeable web designer who is qualified to optimize your website for all types of disabilities. Your website might even help you grow if you have the best one in your market.

Websites can include designs for those who are visually impaired, have hearing loss, or have other limitations in motor skills. A web designer should audit your site for features like these:

  1. Screen-reader software compatibility. This software for visually impaired users optimizes your site so it can be read out loud to a visually impaired user. The site must be able to interact with readable font and alt-text images.
  2. Skip Navigation. This allows people who use screen readers to go directly to the page content without having to listen to your list of options.
  3. Pause Capability for Blinking and Flashing. The user must be able to stop these design features if needed to avoid medical complications that they can cause.
  4. Notifications. These must be both audible and visual to accommodate vision and hearing-impaired users.
  5. PDF’s won’t always work, and any forms must include descriptive HTML tags.
  6. Navigation options. The site must be responsive to both a mouse and keyboard navigation.
  7. State Regulations. Lawsuits have amended the ADA to include different thresholds of compliance.

And when you’re feeling reasonably secure about your level of compliance, remember that this applies to any phone app that you offer too.

You may not be a legal target right now, but you could be. It’s time to research what is needed, develop a plan, and become a leader in your market by adjusting your website to fully accommodate this important group of potential customers.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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