The Cost of Ignoring ADA Compliance

In 2018 the number of website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal court increased by 177%. Heavy hitting lawsuits surrounding ADA compliant websites are cropping up all across the country – most of them in New York and (South) Florida! And while these states are often considered litigation capitals filled with “opportunists” – to be polite – we ought still accept the fact that this is a serious dilemma. It is a moral outrage to prevent equal online access to everyone! 

Chart showing ADA lawsuits per state in 2018Most corporate websites, and even a large handful of government websites, are still not ADA compliant and it is almost 2020! Why is ADA so uncommon if it is so important? That is an interesting question. And actually a rather simple two-fold answer. This is primarily because most business owners and politicians didn’t even think about it. We all know sidewalks and buildings must be ADA compliant – but the digital world sometimes seems like a different universe altogether. It is not. It is simply an extension of the same world. And secondarily, truth be told, most web developers are in a race to the bottom when it comes to pricing, seeking to offer the lowest price at any cost. ADA compliance can add 50 hours to even the most simple websites. So in this dog-eat-dog world, many marketers won’t price in what a prospect does not even know, they simply want the deal done. As the old adage goes “you get what you pay for,” and it is important to know the qualifications of your team. 

So the question is: how can an online business remain compliant with The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990? The legislation is filled with great intentions to ensure that those with disabilities are given the same opportunities as others in all areas of public life, including using the internet. However some of the internet-specific components, while legally binding, are primitive in regards to line of reasoning. After all, the 90’s was an era of AOL and 56k modems, which is technology some of our readers have never encountered. So reading through these descriptions of acceptable practice is akin to watching Congress grill Zuckerberg about Facebook, and get lost like a bag caught in the wind. Bear with us.

There are important steps that your business can take in making your digital presence is as accessible as possible. As per the World Wide Web Consortium (WSC), there are three conformance levels for websites: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA.

 

Level A

This is the most basic level of accessibility. All non-text content should have a text alternative, and all audio and video should be accompanied by captions or transcripts. Instructions should be provided for understanding and operation content that does not rely on sensory characteristics. Color should not be the only way that information is conveyed.

 

Level AA

For this level, all the requirements of Level A must be met as well as meeting the requirements for color contrast, resizing text, heading and labels, and consistent navigation. Brand colors often don’t offer enough on-screen contrast for those who are visually impaired. Also, a website text should be able to be resized to 200% percent without the loss of content or functionality. Navigation on the site should be seamless and consistent as possible.

 

Level AAA

Level AAA compliance should conform to A and AA standards, as well as: sign language interpretation, extended audio descriptions, even higher color contrast, no images of text, keyboard navigation, no re-authentication required and lower reading level.

 It is also important for social media to also be inclusive for people with disabilities. Content should be perceivable, operable, and understandable. There must be text alternatives for images. Users must be given enough time to read the content, therefore, the content and layout must be easy on the eyes. Content must be easily readable and understandable.

Last but not least, we highly recommend you check out this checklist from ADA.gov which is helpful to some degree. 

 While legislation may move slowly, your business should not. Avoiding ADA compliance is a gamble, and eventually, that gamble may result in a heavy lawsuit. If you would like a complementary website review, or you already know that this is a pressing need, contact us today! Whitewall Media offers more than clever branding and advertising solutions – we can assist you with developing an ADA compliant website or retrofitting an existing website.

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