As the internet becomes more ingrained in everyday life, businesses have had to adapt. Having an online presence is no longer only an advantage but also crucial to survival. As the number of online businesses increases, so do the laws and legislation that govern them.
The Americans with Disabilities Act’s guidelines for websites recently became law. Even if you have no idea what it is, however, the chances are good that you are already in compliance with some of it. But some compliance is not enough.
Stay on the right side of the law by reading on and finding out exactly what ADA is and what you should be doing to comply with it.
The Americans with Disabilities Act came into law in 1990. Its main concern is the prevention of discrimination for those with impairments or disabilities.
In 2018, the ADA finally formalized a web policy. The policy makes American businesses responsible and legally accountable for ensuring that their websites meet ADA accessibility standards. Failure to do so could result in fines or a lawsuit.
You may be surprised to learn that guidelines for websites and accessibility have been around since 1999. The first Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were drawn up by the World Wide Web Consortium during 1999. They remained a guide, unenforceable by law, until they were formalized in the US by the Department of Justice in 2018.
The US is somewhat behind many countries in making this law. Other countries have already formalized the WCAG and it has been a legal requirement elsewhere for several years.
Ultimately, there are four guiding principles for making a website ADA accessibility compliant. These principles provide the foundation for functional, efficient, non-discriminatory web design. These principles state that a website should be:
Within these four principles sit the 12 guidelines that provide basic ADA requirements for websites that owners should attain. Businesses that prioritize quality web content as part of their marketing strategy will understand the benefit of making content even more accessible.
The WCAG identify 38 success criteria that determine whether or not your website conforms to ADA. Although it sounds like a lot, the chances are good that you already satisfy many of them. Even if you don’t meet all 38 of the criteria, you can still be compliant, as long as you’ve taken care of the main ones.
To get into the meat of the criteria, you can view the full WCAG guidelines here.
Any business that is considered a “public accommodation” and has 15 or more full-time employees needs to adhere to the new law. This includes retail, business to consumer, and any other business that the general public can use.
A redesign may not be necessary. You will probably need to make some modifications or improvements, though, to bring your site up to standard and ensure it’s fully compliant.
Some businesses choose to have two versions of their website available – one standard and one built for ADA accessibility.
The ADA accessibility guidelines for websites can be complex. We appreciate that it can be hard to understand what you need to do. So, here are some examples of the main aspects of web ADA accessibility that you should be looking to achieve:
Learn how accessible your site is by evaluating it. There are applications out there to help. WAVE or Google Lighthouse, for example, will give you a rating on where you currently stand with ADA accessibility. Alternatively, you could run a manual test with a site-reader to see how it copes.
After you’ve completed this step, you should have a good idea of the changes you need to make to comply with the ADA requirements for websites.
The good news is that there are plenty of experts out there that can take care of ADA accessibility for you. Web design professionals such as David Taylor Digital can review your current site and make the necessary changes to make sure you’re fully compliant. This ensures that you’re not leaving any gaps and that the job gets done quickly and correctly. Hiring a professional tends to be much cheaper than staring down a lawsuit.
If you would like to understand more about how David Taylor Digital can help with ADA requirements for websites, get in touch via email or by calling us at 973-317-8765.