What’s the deal with ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA for short, is a law that was enacted in 1990. It prohibits businesses from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. While the ADA was enacted before the internet was an integral part of our lives, courts are now interpreting the ADA as requiring businesses that are “public accommodations” to have websites that are accessible to the disabled.
The ADA doesn’t provide a comprehensive list of what businesses are “public accommodations,” but any company that sells goods or services to consumers is likely covered. Attorney lawsuits against companies with non-ADA-compliant websites are on the rise. The number of cases nearly tripled from 2017 to 2018 and are expected to be 2.5 times higher in 2019. This trend will likely continue and more and more websites will become targets.
If your business is sued and settles quickly, your company still might pay up to about $20,000 in attorneys’ fees to the other side, plus whatever you spend on web site redesign and your own attorney fees. Is my website ADA Compliant?
What Do I Need To Do To Be Compliant?
The courts have cited the (61) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, often abbreviated to WCAG, as the standard to meet, even though it is not part of the ADA law. These guidelines were produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3.org) and are the recognized and adopted standards for making a site more accessible to users with disabilities.
These guidelines have levels of compliance, from single A (least compliant) to triple (most compliant). The courts have repeatedly cited the middle level of compliance, the double-A level, as the standard for disabled-friendly websites.
Text must meet a minimum color contrast compared to the background of your site. This can significantly impact your design.
- Sight disabled users must also be able to fully navigate your pages via keyboard only, without the use of a mouse
- All websites must work with screen reader software.
- Text versions in PDF documents must be provided to be read offline
- Alt Tags must be provided on all images