When it comes to website development, some aspects are must-haves for any business.
For example, search engine optimization (SEO) helps your site show up for keywords relating to your products or services. Meanwhile, mobile optimization delivers the best possible user experience on mobile devices, where most of us spend much of our time.
Strong messaging, streamlined design, clear calls to action, reliable hosting—the list goes on…including a truly essential item that’s often overlooked in ADA compliance. While omitting any of the other features mentioned above would simply hinder your website’s performance, ADA compliance carries greater weight.
What Is ADA Compliance for Websites?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a civil rights law protecting people with disabilities in many areas of daily life ranging from employment to transportation to public accommodations.
Websites fall under public accommodations and ADA Title III, where ADA standards help ensure adequate access to services, whether from the government or private businesses. Website accessibility encompasses text, images, video, buttons, links, forms, overall navigation, and more. Simply put, your website needs to be accessible to people with disabilities, including those with blindness, color blindness, motor and mobility difficulties, epilepsy, blurred vision, cognitive disorders, aging, cataracts, and other impairments.
What Happens If Your Website Is Not ADA Compliant?
In the vastness of the internet, there’s a realistic chance your site may never be flagged for noncompliance with ADA website requirements. However, that same vastness exposes your business to risk. At any time, a person with a disability or a disability discrimination attorney could find your site, contest that it’s noncompliant, file a lawsuit, and likely secure at least a settlement. In addition to legal fees, an ADA lawsuit could also create costs for a website redesign and any public relations efforts needed to mitigate the damage to your brand in the public eye.
ADA Lawsuits on the Rise
The stats on ADA lawsuits are alarming. In 2021, there were at least 11,452 federal filings, a 320% increase over the previous eight years. Demand letters are even more prolific, with approximately 265,000 such letters sent to businesses as of 2020.
Domino’s, Five Guys, Hobby Lobby, and Winn-Dixie are just a few of the large brands recently in the news for ADA lawsuits. Small and medium-sized businesses are more often on the receiving end of these lawsuits and letters since they’re less likely to be compliant and more likely to agree to a settlement to avoid additional legal fees. Still, the average ADA website lawsuit settlement is $35,000, certainly a big hit for any business to take financially.
How to Address Web Accessibility
ADA compliance requires some serious attention to detail along with technical and legal expertise. In turn, it can also create a long haul of costly labor for coding and web updates if conducted manually. Fortunately, there are automated solutions that can sweep your site using artificial intelligence (AI) to help ensure ADA compliance. Netwave partners with accessiBe, the market leader in web accessibility, to make helpful tools available to our clients at an affordable cost.
Between the accessiBe suite and Netwave’s support, you can achieve full ADA compliance within 48 hours and gain peace of mind knowing your site will have 24/7 automatic maintenance. It’s by far the most efficient option we’ve found. Aside from covering your bases legally, making your website accessible to anyone with a disability is the right thing to do for inclusivity and corporate responsibility. Contact us to get started.