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What happens when you don’t have ADA complaint website?

Reasons to have ADA Compliance webiste blog banner

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first signed into law in 1990, there wasn’t much concern about the digital world and compliance. The internet was still in its relative infancy.

Under the amended and updated rules, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, as set forward by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is regarded as the industry standard on accessibility for all public-facing, as well as some non-public facing, official agency business content.

Your website is the digital display door, serving as an extension of your business. For many companies, it’s where all commercial activities take place. This is the reason why web accessibility has become a preference for companies worried about the liability risk of websites which do not follow ADA compliance. So, what is the bottom line? If your app or website is not ADA compliant, you’re provoking fate as the risk of being sued is real. You can check it with the growing number of lawsuits being filed for inaccessible websites!

In 2018, there were more than 2,200 federal lawsuits claiming company websites were not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. That’s a massive 177% increase over 2017. In Q1 of 2019, already the filings are up by 30% over Q1 of 2018.

In January, a claim was upheld that Domino’s Pizza must make its mobile app as well as the website ADA accessible after a blind customer sued Domino’s for being unable to order a pizza on said site. While the list of sued organizations keeps rising, the primary targets of accessibility lawsuits have been restaurants, food service companies, grocers, retailers, universities, and financial service providers.

Pro-tips to follow

There are several websites online which feature compliance tests with discreet questionnaires to evaluate your website. Below are the most relevant topics which should be followed as a practical list of pass/fail questions adapted chiefly from a 2007 ADA compliance assessment for government sites.

  • Rule 1 – Check if the top of each page with navigation links has a “skip navigation” link
  • Rule 2 – See if all the links have the required text description which can be read by a screen reader (and not just the graphic image or “click here”)
  • Rule 3 – Check if all the photographs, graphics, maps, graphs, tables and other images on the website currently have HTML tags. For instance, it should have an “alt” tag or a long description tag with text equivalents of the content.
  • Rule 4 – Verify if all the documents on your website are available in HTML or another text-based format. For example, rich text format (RTF) or word processing format, even when it is available in another form, such as PDF?
  • Rule 5 – If your website has online forms, check is the HTML tags describe all of the controls (it should include all text fields, drop-down lists, checkboxes, and buttons). It will help physically challenged people to complete and submit the forms.
  • Rule 6 – Make sure the default setting in drop-down lists on the online forms explain the data being requested instead of displaying a response option (viz, “your age” instead of “21-35”)?
  • Rule 7 – If a webpage has data charts or tables, make sure to imply HTML to associate all data cells with column and row identifiers
  • Rule 8 – Assure all video files on your website have audio descriptions of the displays. This will provide permission to information to people who are blind or have low vision.
  • Rule 9 – Synchronize all video files on your website with written captions of spoken communication to provide grants to those who are deaf or have difficulty in hearing
  • Rule 10 – All audio files on your website must have written inscriptions of spoken information synchronized with the action to produce access to people who are deaf or challenged of hearing.
  • Rule 11 – Evaluate if all webpages are designed so they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings of the set colour and font.
  • Rule 13 – Post the website accessibility policy on your website so that it’s easily seen
  • Rule 22 – Your website home page must include easily locatable information, such as the telephone number and email address, which is in use in case of reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessible services and information.

Alienating a Part of the Audience

Are you aware of the fact that 25% of the adults in the U.S., and 40% over age 65, are registered with a physical disability? The 2015 National Federation for the Blind data reveals more than 7 million adults are affected by some or other forms of vision impairment. This includes low vision, blindness, and colour blindness. More than 15% of adults in America are reported to suffer from hearing difficulties. Studies showed two to three children out of every 1,000 are born with a detectable level of hearing impairment in one or both ears. 1 in 68 children is shown to be on the autism spectrum, while 15 to 20% of people are affected by a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia. And this doesn’t necessarily include those with motor functioning inabilities, which makes things like moving and snapping a mouse or typing on a keyboard trying impossible.

Without having a fully accessible website, you risk alienating the audience members who fall into those categories.

Being Hit with a Non-Compliance Lawsuit

ADA compliance lawsuits are on growing in numbers! A report by Insights Blog and The Seyfarth ADA Title III News has been tracking the ADA website compliance lawsuits for a few years. It shows between January 2015 and August 2017, more than 751 suits have been filed. There’s no way to be sure whether all web accessibility lawsuits have been seized, so the figures are likely to be higher.

Nearly 5,000 ADA lawsuits were filed in federal court in the first half of 2018, and the number continued to climb, reaching a 30% increase from 2017.

The chief reason for this is the deficiency of legal consensus on why the websites buckle under the Department of Justice and ADA jurisdiction. Different courts have varying interpretations of the law and what validates the claims of victims of discrimination.

Legal fees for the ADA Non-Compliance cases

As a business website owner, your choice should come down to spending money to secure your website is compliant and taking care that no one sues you legally. Understand that when you are sued by a person with a disability, paying for legal representation is only a small portion of the legal expenses. Depending on the case outcome, you might have to settle the plaintiff’s legal fees and also spend money to make your site ADA-compliant. For small enterprises, this could drive closure. It thus makes sense to invest in making your site compliant with the ADA and section 508 using WCAG.

Damaging the Brand’s Reputation

Brand reputation is one of the central concerns these days. And with social media, it is easier for people to share both positive and negative experiences as and when they experience any. You may have to invest even more funds into a public relations firm to do damage control if you are charged with an ADA compliance lawsuit. More than 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting any website, and online reviews influence 67.7% of purchasing decisions.

So leave your worries to the experts of Anonyoo. They will help you develop sites following these WCAG 2.0 standards. If you have a commercial website, you may want to give our web developer a call today!

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