How to Avoid Violating ADA Rules on Your Website

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Deborah Forrister / 17 December 2019 / Search Marketing

If you have a business with a storefront or other brick-and-mortar space, you are probably already aware of what’s known as ADA compliance. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) may be most commonly known for its rules regarding building accessibility. However, there are many other facets of this law, which protects disabled individuals against discrimination in all areas of public life. Since the rules also imply electronic and information technology, website owners are responsible for ensuring their sites comply with ADA standards so that everyone can navigate and use them successfully.

What are some of the difficulties people with disabilities face online?

Many people with disabilities navigate the Internet with assistive technology, such as screen readers, Braille displays, text enlargement software, and voice controls. Operating systems also offer some basic accessibility features. Unfortunately, without proper consideration, websites can create additional obstacles for people with disabilities.

How can you make a website accessible? It all comes down to ensuring people can still access the information and navigate the site without seeing, hearing, or using a traditional mouse.

Here are a few areas of a website to consider when working to comply with ADA standards:

  1. Vision assistive technology cannot interpret images. By adding a line of HTML code to each image on a page, users with limited vision can understand what is shown.
  2. PDF downloads often pose problems for users who require vision assistance. Providing an additional, text-based download option allows people to use text enlargement tools and other software to read the content.
  3. Colors, font sizes, and other stylistic choices. It’s important to give users the ability to override these settings in their browsers if they need to.
  4. By incorporating captions and audio tracks, those with vision or hearing limitations can still understand videos and soundbites.

There are many more things to consider when making a website accessible. Successful compliance begins with taking a full audit of an existing website’s features, and then making the necessary changes to ensure it is accessible. We can help with that. Call (888) 301-9525 or email [email protected] to get a review of your website.

What is an ADA violation? What are the consequences?

Anyone can file an ADA complaint with the Department of Justice against a private business. If the DOJ decides to open an investigation after receiving the complaint, an investigator or attorney will look into whether a violation has occurred or if there is a bigger issue of public importance at hand. In those situations, the DOJ may try to negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit in federal court.

Is it mandatory for a website to be ADA compliant?

While there are no enforceable ADA laws that apply specifically to websites, many lawsuits have arisen from accessibility shortcomings online. In 2016, a blind man filed suit against Domino’s Pizza, claiming that he could not order customized pizza or use online-only discounts because the company’s website and app would not work with his screen reading software. The court ruled in his favor. In 2019, a blind woman filed a lawsuit against Beyoncé Knowles’ company, Parkwood Entertainment, alleging the site failed to accommodate people with significant vision impairments.

In 2018 alone, there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts – an increase of 181 percent from the previous year. So, while the DOJ might add Internet-specific rules in the future, business owners are still being held responsible for complying with ADA standards. (If it can happen to Beyoncé, it can happen to any of us.)

How do you properly implement ADA-compliant practices?

Speaking with an expert is a surefire way to determine whether your website is ADA compliant. At Envoca, we offer accessibility audits to website owners to help determine how they may improve. Then, our team can work through the necessary changes to ensure all users have a full experience of the website and everything it offers. To schedule an audit, contact us today.