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Why Every Organization Should Commit to Website ADA Compliance


While many organizations tend to have much more pressing priorities, the importance of website ADA compliance should not be underestimated. That is to say, website ADA compliance can seem like an after-thought but this is certainly no longer the perception when an actual lawsuit is filed against your organization.


In this sense, website ADA compliance can be compared to home insurance. You never expect to use this insurance but when or if something happens, you most certainly need it. What’s more, without these precautions, ADA compliance-related lawsuits are an inevitable problem that will face most companies.


Let’s take a closer look at the basics and what your organization should know about ADA compliance:


website ADA compliance


Why Website ADA Compliance Needs to Be Taken Seriously


As you know, ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 which is a civil rights law that prohibits any discrimination related to disability. With this in mind, websites must be fully accessible to persons of disability and anything less can leave an organization open to scrutiny.


In fact, studies show that the number of lawsuits related to ADA compliance have increased in recent times and by as much as 10,000 in just the past year. As if that’s not enough, the Department of Justice passed a motion in July of last year to formalize website accessibility standards and according to the bureau of internet accessibility, 150 new lawsuits were filed in that very same month.


But just in case you might be thinking about leaving this on the back burner, let’s think about the odds for a moment. You see, more than 55 million Americans have a disability of some form. Furthermore, in a census just a few years ago, it was also discovered that over 38 million of these disabilities are considered severe. If you ask me, the odds of complications arising due to non-compliance are pretty high and certainly as much as any insurance-related disasters you might have in mind.


Anyway, the point is, lawsuits are on the rise and ADA website compliance is taken very seriously.  


The Far-Reaching Implications of ADA Compliance


Now, the purpose of this article is not to scare or spread fear but rather to educate and inform on a topic with which many people are still unfamiliar. The truth is, many major companies have already been sued over such issues such as Amazon, Patagonia and Reebok, and many more are likely to follow.


I even read an article recently in which a blind man in New York decided to take no less than 50 colleges to court over ADA compliance and the inaccessibility of their respective websites. Each of these private colleges or universities was located in a completely different pocket of the United States. However, Jason Camacho was able to file these lawsuits in the district of New York because each institution was recruiting students from all over the country.


Now, I have no opinion on the motive or legitimacy of these lawsuits and I have no idea what happened next but this clearly shows the far reaching implications of ADA compliance. After all, if a university can be sued for non-compliance, this also means that absolutely any website is left open and vulnerable to a similar lawsuit.


How ADA Compliance Can Protect an Organization’s Website


According to the law, an online experience should be accessible to each and every person, including those with disabilities. According to Digital Authority Partners, an ADA complaint website takes this into account and ensures that the website is full accessible to those who might be visually impaired.


Here are just a few of the ways in which a website can be made more ADA compliant (from the Digital Authority Partners article mentioned above):


Text – All text should meet the contrast ratio against the backdrop. Although this will impact the design in some way, this is still part of ADA compliance.


Screen Reader – Your website must be readable via screen reader software. Many organizations struggle with this one as the process can be rather difficult and frustrating. But more on this in a moment.


Keyboard – You must be able to navigate every section of the website via keyboard.


Navigation – Use a sitemap and makes sure that each menu and navigation in general is straightforward.


Links and Buttons – All links and buttons need to be descriptive and accurate.


Images – Alt tags must be used, and they need to be as descriptive/accurate as possible. These descriptions are what allow audible readers to describe the image.


Graphics – Always use descriptions and choose graphics that flash for no more than two seconds.


At the same time, these are merely the basics involved and a professional development company is always better positioned to ensure that a website is ADA compliant. Furthermore, these agencies are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to ensure that these improvements do not disrupt the appearance and functionality of the website.


Side note. According to Healthcare Weekly,  no one is more susceptible to compliance lawsuits. Which makes sense. Healthcare organizations (clinic, hospitals etc) should be the first to cater to patients with disabilities. After all, healthcare organizations actually deal with these people, as patients, on a daily basis.


Some Final Thoughts About the Relevance of ADA Website Compliance


Aside from the financial risk and legal implications, the underlying reason for website ADA compliance is to better serve your audience. With this in mind, audiences could do well to create this value and take a moral stance when it comes to the disabilities of the people in need. What’s more, the overall process is also likely to improve the navigation, features and appearance of the website which is an obvious benefit to any organization.


Either way, some organizations might assume that they have more important matters to which they should attend but ADA website compliance is just as serious as any other. When you think about the alarming statistics above, it also makes sense that this issue should be attended to as soon as possible rather than wait for a “most unlikely” call about an unexpected lawsuit.


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