Why ADA Website Compliance Will Be So Critical In 2022
One thing that has become apparent as our nation now comes out of a Covid-19 driven world, ADA Website Compliance is more critical than ever. Since the pandemic first began, Internet use has steadily increased by 70%. The world now has around 4.33 BILLION active users on the Internet! More people now work from home more than ever. Use of the Internet to seek healthcare services via Telehealth and shopping for everyday necessities continues to rise post-covid. But so have the lawsuits for websites that don’t meet ADA Compliance. So, if your website is not ADA Compliant, exactly what does that mean? Here are somethings to think about for 2022 and beyond.
Did You Know?…
“Data shows that more than 11,400 people filed an ADA Title III lawsuit in 2021—a 4 percent increase from 2020 and a 320 percent increase since 2013″
Findings from the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw which tracks ADA Compliance lawsuits each year.
What Is ADA Compliance?
ADA Compliance (Title III) refers to The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. ADA is a civil rights law that provides protection against discrimination and “reasonable accommodations” to persons with disabilities.
While many may mistakenly think of ADA Compliance or ADA Accessibility, as something solely related to the physical accommodations of local, county, state, and federal government agencies for those with disabilities, it is a law for any business that could be considered a “public place of accommodation.” Most recently ADA Compliance has become a “hot button” issue pertaining to ADA Title III and particularly ADA Website Compliance. As more and more people are now accessing the Internet and company websites for services and purchases, the more critical these websites are becoming to everyday life. For those with disabilities, the Internet has become a crucial part of their daily lives for work, purchasing and entertainment. In other words, these websites are now becoming that “public place of accommodation.”
Why Is ADA Website Compliance So Important?
Okay, let’s just skip over the fact that if your website is not ADA compliant you are missing out on new clients and customers at one of the most critical times in history. But, even more alarming, is that your business can be fined!
If your company is found guilty of an ADA violation under Title III your business can be subject to a first-time civil penalty of $50,000 to $75,000. For a consequent violation your business could be fined $150,000. But, that’s not all, if found guilty you could be responsible for the suing parties legal and court fees. In other words, your business could be wiped out with one judgement.
DID YOU KNOW…
“It’s estimated that 85% of ADA lawsuits in federal and state courts in 2018 were filed against small and medium retail businesses.”
Which Businesses Are At Risk For Non-ADA Compliance Lawsuits?
Any business that meets the parameters laid out by the ADA Title III is subject to judgement if found guilty of not meeting ADA Compliance. This can affect businesses of any size, small, medium or large -corporate entities. But…most corporations have a whole department and legal team guiding them on ADA standards and practices. Small to medium businesses are the ones often most at risk.
These can include:
- Government Agencies
- Retail Stores
- Doctors’ Offices
- Daycare Centers
Some businesses that may not be commonly thought of but still must meet ADA Website Compliance:
- Senior Living Communities
- In-Home Care Service Providers
- Wellness Services/Products Businesses
- Online ONLY Sales Companies/Stores
- Online Educational and Training Providers
- Manufacturing Companies
- B2B Sales Companies
- Home Services Companies
*Essentially any business or entrepreneur offering services or products to the public online could be considered a “Public Place of Accommodation” and should have an ADA Compliant Website.
“The Department first articulated its interpretation that the ADA applies to public accommodations’ websites over 20 years ago. This interpretation is consistent with the ADA’s…requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities.”
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, September 2018.
It is important to remember however, that fear of legal ramifications is not the only reason to have an ADA Compliant website. By 2021 it is estimated that Global eCommerce retail sales will hit $4.9 Trillion! And with 2.05 Billion online shoppers (Oberlo) and 75% of people purchasing online (Statista) at least one time a month, businesses that are not offering an ADA Compliant website are missing out on a significant target market for their services and goods.
Now enters Covid-19. The one thing that has gone up during the recent pandemic is the consumer’s reliance on the Internet for almost everything. Business meetings, doctor visits, grocery shopping, even entertainment have all gone from face to face transactions to the online world.
Enter into this the fact that there are an estimated 61 million adults in the U.S. who have some form of a disability with an after-tax disposable income of $490 Billion. Not offering an ADA compliant website means you are missing out on around 26%, or 1 in 4, adult consumers that could be potential customers, clients, vendors or employees.
How Does A Website Become ADA Compliant?
While traditional accommodations for physical offices and stores are fairly logical, such as handicap parking spaces, wheelchair ramps and braille lettering for keyboards, when it comes to websites, ADA Compliance can be confusing. Website information should be accessible to disabled users who are visually, hearing and speech impaired.
An ADA Compliant website should be equipped to work with assistive technologies including voice and screen readers. In addition, your website should also function somewhat intuitively for those with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. W3C, World Wide Web Consortium, is an international community made up of organizations, industry leaders and the public who come together to develop Web standards for global users. Under the oversight of the W3C, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG, outlines accessibility standards for websites. These standards are built on four principals:
Is the Website…
Perceivable – Is the website information easy to understand; is the user interface easy to grasp. Is there visual and audio alternatives?
Operable – Is the website’s navigation user-friendly? Is the website’s operations functioning optimally?
Understandable – Is the website’s content (copy) understandable and easy to read for most readers.
Robust – Is the website optimized to not only work across a variety of browsers but, with assistive technologies as well?
These principals can affect a website in many ways both in the background structure as well as on the front end for information dissemination. Even the smallest details, such as having alternate text for images, can be important for someone with a disability who is accessing the website.
So How Well Is My Website Doing In ADA Compliance?
Well, that depends. While good website developers can cover many aspects of ADA Compliance in the website build, but sadly a lot of the details can get overlooked. According to the W3C, there are three levels of conformance to be met for website accessibility. These are considered the standards of measure. The criteria are categorized according to three levels, providing successively greater degrees of accessibility, Level A, AA and AAA.
Level A (minimum) – Level A is the minimum measure of website accessibility. It usually only provides the most basic of features. It does not meet many accessibility situations.
Level AA (mid-range) – Level AA meets the basic features of Level A but also has a much wider range of website accessibility. It addresses most of the common and largest obstacles for disabled users.
Level AAA (highest) – Level AAA meets all the standards for Levels A and AA. Think of it as the gold standard. It is important to note that it can be impossible to meet this “success criteria” certain content.
Confused yet? We don’t blame you.
ADA Website Compliance can be VERY confusing! But, none the less, it is important to all businesses with a website–online presence to meet ADA Website Compliance. Waiting could mean not only losing out on a large segment of potential clients and customers but, also risking penalties that could harm your business.
The Mauldin Group Understands What ADA Website Compliance Can Mean For You
At The Mauldin Group we believe a good website means great potential. That is why the websites we develop are designed with our clients’ needs for both the present and future in mind. In addition to having great website design, functionality and SEO, websites moving forward will need critical ADA Website Compliance.
Wondering where your website stands with ADA Website Compliance?
Are you ready to update your existing website to be ADA Compliant or need a new website to take your company from “the bottom to the top”? The Mauldin Group’s expert web design and digital marketing teams are equipped to get you on Google’s Page #1. Contact Us Now or Call Us at: 866-438-7756