Is ADA Compliance Mandatory for All Websites?

 Dedicated Designs

Many business and website owners are wondering, “Is ADA compliance mandatory for websites?” While some website accessibility laws can be ambiguous and the legislature is expected to expand, the simple answer is: yes. Essentially, all website owners have the obligation to make their websites accessible in America.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. Having referred to businesses specifically in the physical sense when it was written, ADA is now viewed as extending to the digital realm. Interpretations of the ADA require all websites and electronics to be accessible to persons living with disabilities. Failure to comply with the ADA can lead to a lawsuit and steep fines. 

Why You Should Consider ADA Compliance

ADA and similar State website accessibility laws are in place so that persons with disabilities can access and understand your website. For example, those who suffer from blindness can use the Internet with the assistance of screen readers.

The screen readers depend on code markups that tell the visitor what your website offers. Without proper markups in the website’s code the disabled visitor may have a hard time understanding what your website is trying to communicate. 

The ADA applies to all websites, especially those selling goods and services. Websites that are tied to a business, particularly ones with a physical address, are more likely to receive a lawsuit than websites that are purely informational or anecdotal.

However, laws concerning our digital landscape are continuing to unfold. It is much better–and less costly –to make your website accessible prior to being served a lawsuit. 

How Do You Know If Your Website is ADA Compliant?

Once you understand the need for website accessibility, the next step is to learn the current state of your website. Assessing your existing site will give you a clear idea of how you need to make your website accessible. The two main things you should do are:

  • Conduct a website audit
  • Remediate your website to ensure accessibility

Website Compliance Overview

Here are five overview concepts you should know about regarding the law, your website, as well as your applications.

1. The Law Requirements

ADA requires that your website should be accessible to people with a disability. This is because a website or an app is considered a place of public accommodation. 

If you fail to make your business website accessible, you will be discriminating against people with a disability according to the law. Here are a few talking points that website owners need to understand.

  • ADA serves as a liability law, and it excuses no one for non-compliance. Situations like being unaware of the laws or a developer working on your website are deemed acceptable.
  • Parallel state lawsuits can allege a violation, for example, New York and California Laws.
  • Website owners with less than 15 employees are not exempt from ADA compliance.

2. WCAG

WCAG is the technical standard for website accessibility. The acronym stands for Website Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines strive to make websites work better and be as accessible as possible. The World-Wide-Web Consortium (W3C) publishes these standards. 

3. Overlays

Overlay widgets are Javascript code that some vendors sell. The vendors claim the code provides instant website accessibility. This is not always true. Depending on how your website was built, such codes will not provide accessibility or make your website completely ADA compliant. It is always a good idea to have a reputable professional conduct an ADA compliance website audit

4. Lawsuits and Demand Letters

Demand letters are often the precursor to filing a lawsuit. When it comes to website accessibility, the majority of lawsuits against website owners have been filed in New York, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. 

Anyone who decides to complain about your website can file an ADA website compliance lawsuit. People can also file a lawsuit more than once against your website. Knowing about ADA compliance and taking immediate action to bring your website in alignment with accessibility requirements before your business is sued is highly important. 

5. Accessibility Audits

An accessibility audit is a formal evaluation performed on your business website. An expert manually analyzes and performs tests against WCAG standards. After the evaluation, the professional prepares a detailed accessibility audit report for the website owner. The report should also provide possible solutions for accessibility issues. 

Is ADA Compliance Mandatory for Websites?

Most websites at this point in time need to comply with ADA regulations. In fact, lawsuits over website accessibility are becoming more commonplace in today’s online world. 

The answer to reducing the risk of such litigation is becoming compliant with the ADA laws. It is much easier and less expensive to make your website compliant before being served with a lawsuit letter. 

Reach out to Dedicated Designs, and we will be happy to conduct an ADA-compliant website audit as well as offer solutions based on your site’s results.

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