Thanks to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, there are guidelines for websites who want to be accessible to people with disabilities. Though these guidelines have existed for nearly two decades, websites and mobile apps are launching daily that still prevent certain people with disabilities from using them. Ignoring these accessibility issues could lead to undesirable consequences.
By removing barriers and helping more people complete tasks, accessibility improves the overall ease of use for web pages and mobile applications.
Adding Website Accessibility Into Your Online Marketing Strategy
One step towards avoiding an ADA lawsuit is adding an accessibility review to your marketing plan. An audit can be beneficial in your online marketing strategy because a working website performs better and generates more revenue.
Designing an accessible website or conducting an accessibility review is a better option than losing revenue during remediation work and overpaying for defense lawyers.
If you are not a government website, then there are no enforceable regulations for website accessibility. Daily in the United States, there is an ADA lawsuit that makes the news due to a lack of enforcement. Some judges have ruled that ignoring inaccessibility just because there is a lack of regulation or legal standards for website accessibility is wrong.
While federal websites must adhere to Section 508 by law, state and local sites are required to check with their state requirements. If your website targets users from other countries, you may need to know their accessibility laws as well. The U.K. and Canada are a couple of examples of countries that are starting to enforce accessibility.
Are You At Risk of an ADA Lawsuit?
It is required that most businesses that offer goods or services to the public need to make those equally available to disabled consumers under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Due to Title III, ADA lawsuits have been initiated in droves, claiming businesses’ websites are not accessible and are therefore discriminating against those with disabilities.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has maintained for years that Title III applies to websites and has promised regulations to provide standards for evaluating website accessibility.
However, the Trump administration recently put those long-overdue regulations on hold—indefinitely. Now, getting answers on this confusing issue is more complicated than ever, and several states are taking matters into their own hands.
Over 10,000 of ADA Title III lawsuits are filed in federal courts each year. Roughly 43% of these lawsuits come from California courts, while New York and Florida courts come in with 24% and 18% of the market share, respectively.
In 2019, lawsuits alleging inaccessible websites and mobile apps accounted for about a fifth of the ADA Title III lawsuits filed. Most of the plaintiffs in these cases are either blind or deaf, with claims that the websites under scrutiny do not work with their screen reader software or are suing about the lack of closed captioning for online videos.
How to Prevent an ADA Lawsuit?
To prevent an ADA Lawsuit, it is crucial that you plan, design, and build for web accessibility.
Here are some steps to get you started with making your website accessible:
- Using a free automated accessibility testing tool (WAVE, Axe, or Tenon), you will see accessibility errors, warnings, and alerts.
- Hire an accessibility specialist to perform manual testing that goes beyond the limitations of automated tools.
- Get a quote for a limited accessibility review or site audit.
- Hire an accessibility company that specializes in user testing with disabled users, especially if you are a large corporation.
- Navigate your webpage or mobile app with your keyboard.
- Test your website or mobile app with a screen-reader app.
- Front-end accessibility improvements designers can follow:
- Font sizes (use em)
- Font faces (use sans-serif)
- Place heading tags in the right schematic order (H1, H2, H3,…)
- Test that colors contrast correctly.
- Use something besides color as the only visual indicator should for alerts or that the state of something changed.
- Make all PDFs accessible.
- Underline text links.
- Do not center text unless it is a heading or sub-heading.
- Add image alt attributes by describing what the image is.
Invest in accessibility today. Regardless of one’s physical, mental, or emotional impairment, every website or mobile app should be taking ADA compliance seriously.
At Sympler, ADA compliance is built into every web page, blog post, and Internet resource we construct. To learn more about our portfolio of ADA-compliant digital projects, contact us today.