Website ADA Compliance – How To Avoid A Lawsuit

Website ADA Compliance – How To Avoid A Lawsuit

If this is the first time you’ve heard of ADA website compliance, your business, large or small, could be facing big trouble. Even for e-commerce brands that are solely online.

Since 2017, more than 10,000 lawsuits regarding ADA compliance were filed against website owners. A majority of the lawsuits relate to websites that aren’t accessible to the legally blind or visually impaired.

color cartoon of man screaming at computer screen

Due to 19 percent of Americans (56.7 million people) having disabilities, the threat for a lawsuit is real for any business whose website is not compliant. Not to mention the loss of business opportunity to nearly 20 percent of the population.

Though big companies like Target, Etrade, NetFlix.com, Hulu.com, Amazon.com, the MLB & NBA, Bank of America, Home Depot, Reebok, Bed Bath & Beyond, JCPenney, Panera Bread, AMC Theaters and Carnival Cruises have been sued, fined heavily and required to become compliant as a result, small, local businesses and non-profit organizations are the growing target and being held liable as well.

“But I’m Just A Small Business. Does It Really Matter?”

Yes. In a HUGE way! Ben Tundis, owner of Island Comfort Footwear in Clearwater, Florida said, “The attorneys are telling us, ‘you can’t fight this. There’s nothing you can do, just write them a check,”.

store owner ben tundis

Photo by Colleen Seitz

Tundis, like the growing thousands of private business owners, is the target of a visually-impaired activist. Countless activist groups are actively searching for and holding businesses accountable if their websites are not ADA compliant and lack the proper coding. These lawsuits are being filed by the stackful against small, privately owned businesses and costing owners $20,000 or even more if the case goes to court.

Businesses who agree to settlements to avoid expensive litigation or lose their cases, must not only pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees, but agree to become ADA compliant within a set amount of time anyway.

One thing is clear, the courts have ruled that most websites must be accessible under the ADA guidelines, and if not, will be held accountable.

Good News – ADA Compliance is Tax Deductible!

tax deduction drawn with fountain pen in white ink on black paper

In the U.S. you can take advantage of IRS deductions for making your website ADA compliant. We encourage you to check with your tax professional on specifics, but in general, you can claim a one-time tax credit up to 50% of the costs between $250 and $10,250.

That’s great news as it will be an investment in your business to not only become more inclusive of serving more customers, but peace of mind knowing you’re ADA compliant.

As a digital marketing and strategy firm here at TechCrewMedia, we feel it’s our obligation to help business owners and entrepreneurs like yourself be properly informed. You’re able to make better decisions about your business that way, and in our opinion, that’s just good business.

If you would like to speak with us now about getting your website ADA compliant, contact us today at Hello@Techcrewmedia.com

Okay, What Is ADA Compliance Exactly?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), requires businesses to ensure that all their customers have access to the same services, regardless of their physical limitations, even digitally. You may have installed a ramp, increased the width of your door frames, or made other accommodations to ensure that your physical location are accessible to all, but in 2019, it doesn’t stop there. Section 508 was passed in 1998, an amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to included electronic information and technology be accessible to those with disabilities.

The Big Question You’re Asking – “Does My Website Need to be ADA Compliant?”

Let’s find out real quick:

  1. Are you a business that benefits the public?
  2. Are you a local, state, or government agency?
  3. Are you a private employer with 15 or more employees?

If you answered “yes” to any one of the following questions, YES – your website is required to be ADA Compliant!

But if you want to maximize your online opportunities generated by your website, PPC, SEO, and social media marketing efforts, your website should provide a struggle-free online experience for all users anyway.

ADA Website Compliance 101

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has specifically stated in rulings that websites should be designed so they are accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing, and physical disabilities.

It makes sense that everyone should have equal access to websites and online properties.  The Internet has become an integral part of our lives, where we go to shop, learn, do our banking, and socialize.

As the DOJ hasn’t determined what the final set of regulations for ADA compliant websites will be yet, there are established ADA guidelines and standards of accessibility that can be viewed here in their entirety WCAG 2.1 Guidelines , but here are the basics:

  1. Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software
  2. There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
  3. Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard to navigate instead of a mouse.

two computer programmers looking at their monitors with one clasping hands on top of their head

“My Business Is Online Only. Do I Have to Comply?”

Yes. The requirement for equal access used to only apply to physical locations and storefronts, BUT now the government is actively ensuring that the requirements for ADA accessibility include websites and mobile apps.

Any business that is considered a “place of public accommodation” is required to provide equal access to services under the nondiscrimination requirements of Title III of ADA. When you look at the guidelines closely, this includes hotels, entertainment venues, legal and accounting firms, retail stores, and virtually every business that is not a private club, including businesses that exist solely on the web.

“Does This Include Apps Also?”

graphic illustration of hand holding phone circled by various app icons

Yes. ADA compliance isn’t limited to websites. A recent ruling against an online grocery delivery company established the need for mobile apps to meet similar accessibility standards. Businesses need to consider every aspect of their web presence to ensure they are providing an exceptional user experience with access for all. While there are legal considerations that make having an ADA compliant website a solid business decision, it’s also just a matter of good customer relations.

How Does the Need for ADA Website Compliance Affect My Business?

Aside from the negative legal, financial & PR impact not meeting ADA compliance, your website makes a statement about your business.

Having a website indicates you are wanting to share your information, products and services to others without bias. We encourage you that no matter if you own a gym, restaurant, school, non-profit, law firm, barbershop, automotive dealer, boutique, mechanic, bike shop, bar, hotel, online e-commerce store etc., your business doesn’t exclude anyone being able to convert to a loyal customer due to technological bias that could be avoided.

Overall, your website’s purpose is to build trust and help your visitors make an educated buying decision thus increasing your conversion opportunities. If your site is welcoming & accommodating to all, the opportunity for greater sales will be the result.

smiling young woman with arms crossed leaning against counter in a store

Our goal is to help business owners, entrepreneurs and side hustlers like you make a positive impact with their ideas, harnessing the power of the web and social media. Let’s work together and get your website ADA compliant today before you end up on the receiving end of a lawsuit that could have been avoided with our help.

You’ve put in so much blood, sweat and sleepless nights building your business. We want to make sure none of that is threatened with a lawsuit. Don’t you?

Contact us today at Hello@TechCrewMedia.com and let’s get started getting your website ADA compliant!

What It Takes To Rank On Page 1 of Google! Read more here 

TechCrewMedia is a digital and social media marketing agency in Houston, Texas focused on helping businesses dominate with practical strategies.

Facebook Is Developing a Singing “Talent Show” Feature

Facebook Is Developing a Singing “Talent Show” Feature

Facebook Develops New Talent Show Feature

Facebook’s plan to take on Musical.ly may involve more than just its own take on a lip syncing feature.

They’re also working on “Talent Show,” which would allow users to compete by singing songs then submitting their audition.

The feature isn’t live, but was rather an uncover in the Facebook’s code by Jane Wong.

Wong has a history of uncovering yet-to-launch features or those still in testing through the use of reverse engineering tactics.

She’s spots things like Instagram’s first time-well-spent feature, Lyft’s bike program, and Instagram’s new ways of displaying IGTV videos.

In the case of “Talent Show,” Wong discovers an interface that allows users to pick songs, and then start recording themselves singing the track.

The app’s code also makes references to the feature as “Talent Show” and includes mentions of elements like “audition” and “stage.” The auditions load as videos, Wong notes.

How Is Facebook Benefiting From The Talent Show Feature?!

The development would offer Facebook another way to take advantage of its more recently acquired music licensing rights.

The company, starting last year, began forging deals with all the record labels – including the majors like Universal, Sony, and Warner, and several others, as well as the indies.

The deals mean Facebook won’t have to take down users’ videos with copyrighted music playing in the background, for starters. But the company also said it planned to leverage its rights to develop new “music-based” products going forward.

One of those is Lip Sync Live, an almost direct copy of the popular tween-and-teen lip syncing app Musical.ly, which today has 200+ million registered users and 60 million actives.

Like Musical.ly, Lip Sync Live – which is still in testing – a way to broadcast your lip sync recordings to friends.

Talent Show (assuming the code analysis is on point) seems to take a different angle.

Instead of lip syncing for fun, people are actually singing and competing. It’s similar to the newly launched app FameGame.

However, Wong notes that the feature may be restricted to Facebook Pages, similar to Facebook’s new trivia game show feature.

So, it may offer those partners who’re using Facebook to build out games on their own pages.

Also, Talent Show sources the music via the new Rights Manager, used by record labels to track copyrighted tracks’ usage on Facebook.

Over the years, Facebook has taken aim at any other social app that gathers a following and then reproduces its own version of the app’s key draw – as it did with Stories, Snapchat’s biggest differentiator.

It’s no surprise, then, that it now has Musical.ly in its sights, with regard to lip syncing.

And with the Talent Show feature, it may challenge YouTube as the place where new talent can be discovered, too.

Twitter Posts Record 100M Profit But Loses 1M Followers

Twitter Posts Record 100M Profit But Loses 1M Followers

The social media apocalypse is on us this week.

Just days after Facebook’s stock dropped $123 billion in value, Twitter’s shares are also down nearly 20 percent.

The microblogging service recorded a drop of 1M monthly users in Q2, with 335M overall and 68M in the U.S.. International users stayed consistent, with U.S. numbers down from 69 million in the previous quarter.

Bloomberg reported that Twitter’s share price dropped by 17 percent in early trading following the earnings announcement.

The market seems spooked that Twitter has failed to grow in the U.S.. Indeed, one year ago it recorded 68 million users on home turf, and while it has grown its international presence by a fairly modest 3.5 percent over that period, there are doubts as to whether Twitter can increase its audience.

The company itself said it expects to see its monthly active user count drop by “mid-single-digit millions.”

 

Twitter’s Monthly Active Users

“When we suspend accounts, many of the removed accounts have already been excluded from MAU or DAU, either because the accounts were already inactive for more than one month at the time of suspension, or because they were caught at signup and were never included in MAU or DAU,” Twitter further explained in its release.

The company did say, though, that its work with SMS carriers and reallocation of resources, are the reasons why it is forecasting more user number declines.

While Twitter can (just about argue) that its daily user number grew by 11 percent in the quarter — a little higher than 10 percent in Q1 — the company doesn’t actually disclose this number.

The stock drop will be frustrating for executives because, in its favor, Twitter had a record quarter of profit. GAAP net income came in at $100 million with revenue climbing 24 percent year-on-year to reach $711 million. Adjusted EBITDA came in at $265 million — Twitter is predicting it will decline to $215-$235 million in the next quarter.

That profit was above analyst forecasts of $70 million but, following Facebook’s epic crash this week, investors want to see growth potential… and that means more users. Unfortunately, that’s Twitter’s Achilles heel.

Facebook Has Officially Lost $123.4 Billion in Value

Facebook Has Officially Lost $123.4 Billion in Value

In what could be the biggest one-day drop of all time, Facebook shares opened at $174.89, down 19.6 percent compared to yesterday’s closing price of $217.50 according to NASDAQ:FB. 

Yesterday, Facebook was worth $629.6 billion. Today, it’s now worth $506.2 billion. In other words, Facebook lost $123.4 billion in value in ONE DAY. 

Now, today’s performance isn’t due to yet another data misuse or election interfering scandal.

The company has reported disappointing earnings. For the first time, Facebook’s growth is stalling.

There are barely more people checking Facebook every day compared to previous quarter.

Facebook is still growing, however, it’s clear that GDPR combined with a saturated market isn’t helping the company by any means. 

This is why Facebook is trying to change the narrative.

For example, for the first time ever, Facebook shared a new “family of apps audience” metric.

There are 2.5 billion people using at least one of the company’s app — Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

So it’s clear that Facebook thinks Instagram and its stories represent the future of the company.

But this is going to be bring some questions to life in then next few months as it’s unclear if Instagram can generate as much money as Facebook’s main app.

 

Measuring Facebook’s Losses

$123,400,000,000 is a big number. It’s hard to wrap the mind around how much this kind of money represents given the scale of these massive companies. As TechCrunch’s Jon Russell pointed out, bitcoin’s entire market capitalization is currently $141 billion. So it’s like nearly all bitcoins disappeared overnight.

Who would have thought Facebook could be more of substance than bitcoin? 

Even if you compare it to significant tech companies, this is a huge loss.

For instance, Netflix is worth $158 billion right now. Twitter’s market cap is only $33 billion.

It’s like Facebook did away with nearly 4 Twitters in market cap overnight. And I’m not even talking about Snap, which is only worth $17 billion.

 

Innovating Facebook’s Business Model

Most people have been focused on Facebook’s losses for now. But now it’s time to look at Facebook’s business model and understand what’s causing this these losses to happen.

Facebook is one of those once-in-a-lifetime, incredible success stories.

It did become a massive business in just a few years, but it also has a dangerous business model.

Thousands of employees are looking for ways to collect more data. Business teams can then sell expensive ads because they’re perfectly targeted.

And the best way to optimize efficient ads is by making addictive products that consumers feel like they need.

If you spend more time looking at stories, you’re going to be exposed to more ads. Period.

That’s why Facebook optimizes for engagement. It gets us (users) outraged, we become sad, and we like and we share the post. This is how Facebook makes money.

2018 is a turning point for Facebook.

People will look back at this moment as an inflection point in the company’s trajectory. But it’s still unclear if Facebook has the answer to its structural issues.

Snapchat Is Ending Its Money Transfer Service, SnapCash

Snapchat Is Ending Its Money Transfer Service, SnapCash

Image result for snapcash

Tragedy has recently struck one particular company in the social media world. Confirmed by TechCrunch, Snapchat is ending its money transfer service, Snapcash, on August 30, 2018.

So what does this mean for Snapchat users? Well, it didn’t say what’d happen to users’ accounts, but it did promise that they’d be notified.

This may devastate those frequent Snapcash users, but this was bound to happen eventually with all the competition that Snapcash faces.

 

Snapchat Couldn’t Keep Up With The Competitors

Snapchat officially launched Snapcash in 2014 as a partnership with Square, another money transfer service.

This partnership gave both entities a boost: For Snapcash, they got a payment platform with little-to-no work. For Square, they were able to attach their service to a very familiar brand.

Snapcash provided Snapchat users with an easy way to send money, but it failed to attract interest outside of paying for adult content.

Now this most likely isn’t the main reason for the ending of Snapcash, but it’s definitely not good for the company’s image.

Now the real reason Snapcash is ending has not yet been revealed, but there’s a good chance it’s due to their inability to fight off the competition. 

One of the competitors that Snapcash wasn’t able to compete with is Venmo.

Venmo has really been the go-to apps when it comes to paying your friends.

Unfortunately, however, Venmo isn’t Snapcash’s only competitor.

They’re also going up against competition from the likes of Facebook, Zelle and even Apple Pay Cash and Google Pay.

That said, no matter how well Snapcash worked, it was just one platform that couldn’t continue swimming above the surface.

 

What’s Next For Snapchat?!
Image result for snapchat project eagle

According to TechCrunch, earlier this month, they revealed that Snapchat’s code mentioned a camera search feature codenamed “eagle.”

It’s designed to allow users to scan an object or barcode using their Snapchat camera and see product results in Amazon.

But since the report, mentions of Amazon have disappeared from the code.

It’s unclear what will happen in the future, but camera search could give Snapchat new utility and monetization options.

So it’ll be interesting to see how Snapchat executes its commerce strategy now that it’s discontinuing Snapcash.

Only time will tell!

Increasing E-Commerce Sales Using Instagram Shopping Tags!

Increasing E-Commerce Sales Using Instagram Shopping Tags!

Image result for instagram shopping

As Instagram continues to evolve, online retailers are REALLY beginning to evolve with it. Ever since Instagram started allowing users to link shopping tags to their posts, some brands have been able to dramatically increase their traffic and sales.

One brand in particular, Natori, has increased its traffic by 1,416% by using Instagram shopping. I’m sorry, WHAT?!

Also, Native Union has increased its traffic by 2,666% by using Instagram shopping. Again.. WHAT?!

So what exactly is Instagram Shopping and how do you use them to increase your brands traffic and sales?

What Instagram Shopping Tags Do For Brands!

With over 800 million monthly active users, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social apps, connecting hustling entrepreneurs, brands, and consumers.

The expansion Shopping Tags on Instagram, online retailers can tag their products in their posts.

Shoppable posts automatically provide links to corresponding product pages on your website so that customers can quickly add to cart and check out, or browse the remainder of your catalog.

With 9 shopping posts or more, businesses also get a persistent Shop tab on their Instagram business profile that allows customers to tap to view all products on a post.

5 Ways Your Brand Can Increase Sales Using Instagram Shopping Tags!

Step 1: Make sure your Instagram is set up correctly. This means:

  • Switch to a Business Profile
  • Update Any Business Info
  • Add an Email, Phone Number and Address
  • Connect Your Facebook Page / SHOP
  • Tag Products
  • Share Your Post

Step 2: Engagement is EVERYTHING!

 

To use the feature, brands need only to push their inventory to Facebook (you can make this visible or not to your Facebook audience).

Once your account is approved and you can post Instagram Shopping content, you’ll see an option to tag your products.

Once this is all setup and ready, your focus should be on engagement!

One question you need to ask yourself [or staff], is if your content is actually increasing engagement?

If you’re not seeing an increase in comments and likes, then it’s going to be difficult converting consumers to your website landing page.

It’s important to view IG engagement as a real way to boost your ROI and clicks to your brand’s website.

The bottom line is your engagement is about making real connections with your customers; connections that make them feel important to you and your brand.

A study was done with 30% of millennials who engage with brands on social media at least once a month. At the end, 71% of the participants said they’re more likely to buy from a brand after a positive social media experience.

So, when you get comments on your business profile, it’s VERY important to respond as quickly as possible.

It’s even MORE important that when you do reply, the responses are real and authentic. No copy / paste.

Step 3: Deploy Better Content Than Your Competitors

Related image

You can increase your sales using Instagram Shopping by 10x by deploying content that none of your competitors are

The key is getting and staying ahead of the curve because you’re giving your followers something that your competitors aren’t. 

Step 4: Provide A Smooth, Enjoyable Customer Experience

emerica instagram shopping

Any highly successful sales funnel needs a solid end-to-end customer journey. It takes more than great content to get users to convert to your online store, so always put emphasis on your customer’s journey.

With Instagram Shopping, you’re allowing consumers to fluidly go from a random organic post in their feed, to learn more about the product, to then one simple click directly to the featured product in your online shop.

The skateboard company, Emerica, does an exceptional job of this by displaying their products and directing the customer to exactly what they are considering buying.

Step 5: Track Instagram Shopping Progress

Like any social marketing strategy, one final step should be tracking your progress and looking at how things can be improved.

The same goes for anyone using Instagram Shopping.

Luckily with SimilarWeb.com or Google Analytics, you can track your Instagram metrics.

It’ll also give you reports on how your posts are or ARE NOT helping drive your online sales.

Final Thoughts

As we become more connected to the brands we love, whether that be via a favorite influencer featuring a product or, from the brand itself, the winning benefit of this tool here is speed!

We can see an engaging post of a product we love, and within two clicks, buy it without ever leaving Instagram.

For any brand to find a winning tactic in a sea of competition and great content, reducing the steps a consumer has to make to go from interested to buying will come out on top.

And best of all, this tool is absolutely FREE! Now … go dominate!

Tinder’s New Feature, Tinder Loops, Expands To Global Markets – Tech Crew Media

Tinder’s New Feature, Tinder Loops, Expands To Global Markets – Tech Crew Media

Image result for tinder

When Tinder first launched in September of 2012, it started out as just a “swipe left or right.” Swiping left means you don’t think someone is appealing and swiping right means you do.

This changed the game, especially for those that may be shy or not confident enough to approach someone in public.

Over time, there have been other dating sites that have tried to compete with Tinder. Some of which are Bumble, the app that only allows the woman to make the first move, Zoosk and eHarmony.

The simplicity using Tinder, however, has been the reason that it’s been the more dominant dating site.

I mean, come on… it’s so easy to just swipe left or right whether you think someone’s “hot or not.”Image result for tinder loops

Tinder Is Amplifying Their Swipe Game!

You know that verse in Miley Cyrus’ song, “We Can’t Stop” that goes, “We can’t stop, and we won’t stop”? Well, that’s exactly what dating app giant, Tinder, is doing right now with their newest feature, Tinder Loops.

And now with Tinder, we’ve got a new experience that’s really going to amplify someone’s swipe game. Tinder’s new two-second Loops, where you can take any video and create a loop from it.

Tinder has already tested Loops in countries like Canada and Sweden, but now they have added a few new markets.

These markets include Japan, United Kingdom, United States, France, Korea, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Kuwait, New Zealand, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.

Tinder also increased the number of images users can upload to nine, in order to make room for Loops without displacing original photos.

Given that Tinder has been testing Loops since April, they now have more data around how it’s been working for users.

For example, users who add a Loop to their profile saw that their average conversation length went up by 20%.

This new feature has also seemed to be very beneficial in Japan, which was launched there in June – certain users say they receive an average of 10% more right swipes if they have a Loop in their profile.

In the era of Instagram and Tinder, users have used pictures to represent themselves online.

But, with all the editing tools available, it also means those pictures aren’t always the most accurate display of personality or appearance.

So with Tinder Loops, these videos help give a new way for people to get to know the real, authentic person they’re chatting with.

Online Retailers Required To Collect Sales Tax

Online Retailers Required To Collect Sales Tax

Image result for online retailers sales tax law 2018

Welp.. looks like online shopping is about to get even more expensive.

The U.S Supreme Court has announced that states can start requiring internet retailers to collect sales tax.

So what does this mean for you if you’re an E-Shop-A-Holic like us? Well, you might want to think about getting a second job! HA! Jk… but seriously.

 

Brick-And-Mortars Are Suffering! 

Image result for brick and mortar

The court’s 5-4 decision is based on the case of Wayfair v. South Dakota, which was a victory for brick-and-mortar businesses; these companies have long complained they are put at a disadvantage by having to charge sales taxes while many online competitors do not.

It was also a victory for states that have said that they are missing out on tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. Close to $40 billion in 2017 alone in lost tax revenue.

According to the New York Times, in the ruling, the court effectively overturned a system that it created back in 1992.

The court ruled in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota that the Constitution bars state’s from requiring businesses to collect sales tax unless they have a substantial connection to the state.

Also, just before the ruling, President Donald Trump tweeted (shown below) about Amazon saying they pay, “little or no taxes to state & local governments,” which was actually false information.

In 2017, Wayfair already collected sales tax on approximately 80% of its orders placed in the United States while Amazon collected sales tax in the 45 states that have already been placing orders through them online.

 

Not Every Ecomm Store Has To Charge Sales Tax!

In addition to the court’s ruling, it was stated that not all online retailers are required to collect sales tax.

For example, in 2015, South Dakota enacted a law requiring all e-commerce merchants to collect a 4.5% sales tax if they have generated more than $100,000 in annual online sales or more than 200 transactions originating within their state.

Large companies will most certainly be required to collect sales tax, but smaller online retailers will not.

Defining what is considered “small”, will be determined determined by each state. Initially, those online retailers that sell through Facebook Marketplace or eBay are the benchmark.

That being said, as online retailing has grown, the dynamics have shifted. Online retailers are no longer scrappy upstarts competing with more established businesses.

So after writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the Quill decision caused states to lose annual tax revenues of up to $33 billion or more.

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

This decision also helped pave the way for the growth of online retail by letting companies sell nationwide without navigating the complex patchwork of state and local tax codes.

As online shopping has evolved over the years both in technology and convenience for consumers, it has taken many years for traditional brick-and-mortars to learn how to capitalize with the IRS not far behind.

As each state implement their own sales tax laws, small online retailers will need help with the logistics of Sales Tax the myriad of different percentages, rates and fees required.

This creates a huge opportunity for software / tech companies to help them by creating platforms to help the smaller ecomm businesses navigate this efficiently, effectively and legally.

Who knows … the way things are going, maybe that will be the next division of AMAZON! Only time will tell.