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.
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,”.
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!
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:
- Are you a business that benefits the public?
- Are you a local, state, or government agency?
- 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:
- Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software
- There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
- Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard to navigate instead of a mouse.
“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?”
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.
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!
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TechCrewMedia is a digital and social media marketing agency in Houston, Texas focused on helping businesses dominate with practical strategies.