When most people think of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), they think of physical locations and the accommodations that businesses are legally required to provide for people with disabilities. For example, businesses need to ensure their locations are wheelchair accessible or provide Braille for their customers who are visually impaired. What many people do not realize is that the ADA also requires businesses to ensure that their website content is also available to those with disabilities, as well. The following is a brief overview of ADA digital compliance. For more details, contact a Washington, D.C. ADA compliance lawyer from Eric Siegel Law.
Unlike the regulations for the physical locations spelled out in the ADA, there are no clear regulations for companies to follow when it comes to making sure their website is ADA compliant, only that the site must offer “reasonable accessibility.” This vagueness has led to a spike in the number of claims and lawsuits that have been filed by disabled plaintiffs against businesses because they say that their websites and/or apps were not accessible.
The number of lawsuits is expected to rise when you consider how many websites in the U.S. are not ADA compliant. To get an idea of how prevalent are the issues, consider a study conducted by industry watchdog WebAIM. The organization analyzed more than one million home pages of both small and large companies and found that 98 percent of these sites failed to meet requirements for website accessibility under the ADA.
The study found that one of the biggest issues are for visually impaired website users who use a screen reader. Screen readers are software that reads the content to the user as they move the cursor over the information. On many websites, the content is not coded to be screen reader compatible.
A Washington D.C. ADA compliance lawyer knows that there are many businesses that can be affected by these legal requirements, including retail establishments, medical practices, restaurants, hair salons, florists, and more. A claim against a business can result in serious financial impact. The business not only will need to make modifications to their website, they may also be liable for the plaintiff’s legal fees, as well as their own, and may have to pay the plaintiff damages.
There are steps a business can take to make sure their website is ADA compliant before it becomes an expensive legal issue. An ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C recommends the following:
An ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C., can help you ensure that your website meets ADA compliance. Eric Siegell Law is prepared to assist you.
Everyone should have access to the information on your website. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you put together your site.
Do Plan for Keyboard Access
Individuals with visual or motor impairments may choose to use keyboard navigation while browsing your website. Try tapping the tab key while on your website. Can you see a visible outline on the content? If so, then you have keyboard navigation enabled. This navigation tool shows viewers their location on the web page. Users should also be able to follow a logical order throughout the page.
Do Ensure Your Website Has Proper Readability
Many blind and low-vision people use screen-reading software to navigate the web. Make sure your site works correctly with common versions of this type of software. If you’d like to test your site’s compatibility, try using the screen reader on your smartphone or download a free version of screen-reading software.
Do Check Color Contrast
The text and backgrounds on your website should have high color contrast. If the background and text do not have enough contrast, someone with low vision might not be able to read the information on your website. You can find free websites and apps to help you choose appropriate contrasting palettes and contrast ratios.
Don’t Forget Text Descriptions
An ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C., knows that readers need to access all the information on your website pages. Graphic elements, images and links need text descriptions so that someone who cannot see these elements can pick up the information contained there.
Don’t Forget Visual Components
For those who cannot hear audio, text and visual options are essential for videos. Users need to be able to read all of the key elements in a video with sound. In other words, if there is something to hear, there should be corresponding subtitles or descriptions.
Don’t Skip Adding Contact Information
People who use your website need to be able to reach you if they have comments or concerns about ADA compliance. Make sure you have a contact page so that they can reach you easily. It’s also a good idea to include your contact information on every page of your website.
It’s a good idea to consult an ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C. if you have questions or concerns about your compliance. Eric Siegell Law understands compliance issues and can be a valuable resource.
With better accessibility software options, more and more people who have disabilities are using computers. Screen readers are increasing their accuracy and the ease of putting captions on YouTube and IGTV videos is remarkable.
People who are blind are far from being the only people who benefit from accessible websites. A person who is deaf can’t hear your video, and without subtitles or a transcript, will miss out on what you’re talking about. People who have limited use of their hands may rely on keyboard shortcuts to maneuver through your website. Your Americans with Disabilities Act — ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C., at Eric Siegell Law can give you more examples of how website accessibility benefits more populations.
According to the CDC, 25% of all adults in the U.S. are living with disabilities, and 40% of people older than 65 live with disabilities. That’s a huge market share not to be selling to. An ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C., can guide you in getting your website accessible so you can sell to more people.
There has been a rise in lawsuits filed against businesses lately.The ADA applies to all businesses in the nation, and that includes their online presence. Recently, Nike and Amazon have been sued in class action suits for non-compliance with the ADA on their websites. However, smaller companies are also at risk.
Making your website accessible doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and the benefits could be huge. For example, look at the financial benefits of having your products and services available to a larger pool of potential customers. You can also position yourself as a company that promotes equality for all people, regardless of ability status. Your ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C., at Eric Siegell Law can help you understand all the benefits of accessible websites.
Congratulations on making your site accessible! However, you’re not done; accessibility is a long, winding road. As you create more content for your site, you’ll need to make sure it’s accessible to people with disabilities. New technological advances may require updates to your website, too. Keep testing your site for accessibility; your new customers will appreciate it.
If you created a website and you’re ready to start your eCommerce journey, you are understandably excited to sell your products and connect with customers. However, as any attorney at Eric Siegell Law would advise, you’re not home free unless people with disabilities can gain access to your site and make use of it as well.
Web accessibility compliance may seem like a pain and it may make you feel apprehensive about your site going live, but talking to an ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, d.c. may make you feel more comfortable. Web accessibility really is not so scary and daunting as it may seem. Here are a few questions to ask your legal consultant about accessibility.
The easiest way to ensure that your web site is accessible is by asking an ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C. to check it for you. Attorneys like those at Eric Siegell Law have resources that help them ensure that your site meets accessibility standards.
that said, every time you update your site with new content or a newly designed interface, you will want to ensure that it stays accessible. In that case, you can still consult your ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C. Additionally, you can hire a web accessibility tester to ensure that you stay compliant. An accessibility tester can check the site’s functionality with various adaptive hardware and software. He or she will also be very familiar with accessibility standards in general.
As your attorney at Eric Siegell Law may explain, you can be sued for inaccessibility if your site is not up to ADA standards. To be fair, the language in the ADA is currently still very vague about digital accessibility and compliance as compared to its standards regarding physical accessibility at brick and mortar public access locations.
Still, both large and small-scale businesses have had to go to litigation over web inaccessibility. Before you and your ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C. take the stand, your attorney can help you prepare both your web site and your argument, so that you don’t have to pay a hefty price for inaccessibility.
As your ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C. will explain, web accessibility does not just pertain to one type of disability. Though the inaccessibility of websites most commonly affects people with visual impairments who use screenreaders to browse the web, you also have to keep in mind other categories of disabilities. For instance, people who are immobile may use special technology to navigate the web as well. People with neurological conditions also rely on web accessibility. As any attorney at Eric Siegell Law would advise, it’s best to simply get familiar and stick with all web accessibility standards.