What You Need to Know About ADA Compliance for Your Website

Brands put a ton of work into their websites.

But all those hours spent getting the kerning of your name just right or maximizing your site’s SEO ranking potential are for naught if your site doesn’t comply with ADA regulations.


Since 1990…

The ADA, or American Disabilities Act, was enacted way back in 1990 when Comic Sans was still an edgy web font. The ruling marked a major milestone in disability rights advocacy, but its impact on web design is not cut and dry.

You may have noticed detailed image captions popping up more frequently in the online articles you read. When sites include such captions, they’re increasing accessibility for visually-impaired readers who use dictation software to get the most out of their online experience.


“In other words, applying Title III to websites — and to online content in general — is highly problematic, because websites are connected to the global economy.”
-Mark Pulliam, Los Angeles Times


How have the courts ruled so far?

We can all agree that this is a fantastic step for sites to take to become more inclusive, but are there legal repercussions for sites that don’t take disabilities into consideration? The answer is yes — and ADA lawsuits related to website compliance are more common than you might think.

According to the LA Times, “ADA lawsuits are now as common as sex- discrimination lawsuits, with more than 26,000 new claims filed against employers each year…In this trend, people sue businesses because their websites aren’t sufficiently accessible to the disabled- because the websites lack assistive technologies for the blind or hearing- impaired, say.”

In 2016, the Department of Justice heard the case of UC Berkeley. The university was in trouble because their YouTube page was non-compliant, and it was recommended they follow W3C’s Web Content Access Guidelines. Following these guidelines is the best way to stay out of trouble when it comes to ADA compliance, as these guidelines are now being seen as the precedent for future cases.


What you can do, today.

Here are a five of the key points to cover when assessing how well your site performs based on W3C guidelines to reach “A” or “AA” ADA compliance:

1. All images should contain a caption and text, unless images are purely for decoration or spacing.
2. Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
3. Provide users enough time to read and use content.
4. Don’t design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
5. Provide users ways to help navigate and find content.

This year will mark a final ruling about which websites need to be fully ADA compliant. Will these laws be limited only to government sites? Sites that provide goods or services? This will depend on courts’ definition of “places of public accommodation.”


What will the future bring?

For the real nitty gritty on exactly what you need to do to achieve ADA compliance online, talk to your legal counsel. We’re marketers, not lawyers, after all. But we do know how to help brands look out for strategic opportunities to better engage their audiences. Searchlogic offers services for landing page design and testing, mobile audits with Google team, and can work with you and your developers to ensure your website is ADA compliant.


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