4 Ways To Ensure Your Website Is ADA Compliant And Save Thousands In Legal Fees

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People with disabilities (PWDs) don’t have the same capabilities as other individuals when navigating the digital landscape. Because of their physical, mental, visual, hearing, intellectual, and learning impairments, web accessibility can be much more challenging for them. Thankfully, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) got them covered. 

As a business website owner, it’s your utmost responsibility to promote inclusivity on your site for its users and visitors. After all, improving website accessibility is a win-win situation for website owners and visitors with impairments. 

In this article, you’ll explore ADA compliance in websites, find out the legal consequences non-compliant to the ADA guidelines, and learn some tips to ensure that your website would be ADA-approved. 

ADA Compliance: The Four WCAG Principles 

To protect and give equal access to individuals with disabilities utilizing business services, ADA requires businesses with 15 full-time employees operating for 20 weeks and more to make accommodations to people with disabilities, whether in their physical or online establishments. 

In terms of using the online landscape, ADA didn’t set specific guidelines for website compliance, as long as they create a site that accommodates online users with disabilities. Therefore, businesses and organizations today follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) containing these four fundamental principles: 

• Perceivable: Website content is presented in an easy-to-understand manner. 
• Operable: The website is usable and navigable. 
• Understandable: Content is readable and easy to interpret. 
• Robust: Content is interpretable by different platforms and devices. 

Is your website ADA-compliant? Before anything else, it’s paramount to have your website checked through professional website accessibility audit services for thorough website inspection and evaluation. This way, you can accurately identify which website components are non-compliant. 

The Legal Costs of Non-Compliance 

With these strict guidelines implemented, being unable to comply with them has significant consequences which can hurt your pocket. Here are the legal fees that you’ll encounter upon non-compliance to WCAG: 

• Up to USD$75,000 for initial ADA violations 
• Up to USD$150,000 for subsequent ADA violations 
• Compensation for punitive damages for pain, suffering, and distress 
• Compensation for involved documented expenses 
• Compensation for plaintiff’s costs of pursuing the lawsuit 

These are large lawsuits!

Ways To Make Your Website ADA-Compliant 

Complying with ADA guidelines is relatively easy and pain-free if you know how to design a friendly website. Here are four foolproof tips to get you started on ADA and WCAG compliance to avoid legal liability: 

1. Keep Visuals Sleek, Simple, And Organized 

The first thing that users will encounter upon visiting your website is its visual elements. Whether your visitor has any impairments or none, you should prioritize keeping the website and its graphic elements simple and organized to promote better content presentation and readability. 

Some tips to help you: 

• Utilize white space to separate different types of content.
• Provide menus and buttons in a way that they’re aligned to one another. 
• Promote visual hierarchy on your typography. 
• Avoid crowding a webpage with too much content. 

Use a color contrast ratio to ensure that colors stand out despite screen variation and perception. 

2. Provide Keyboard Navigation 

Making your website accessible isn’t just for the sake of site user accessibility but also the accessibility of their assistive technology. Therefore, make sure to enable keyboard navigation in your website to help users with disabilities who don’t prefer or cannot use the mouse. 

A keyboard enables the user to navigate the entire website using the tab button to go through the links one by one until they’ve reached their desired link. With a mouse, there’s a higher possibility for a user with impairment to access the wrong button or even click on blank space. 

When authorizing keyboard navigation, the user must: 

• Follow along with the keyboard’s focus 
• Navigate and access all interactive elements 
• Skip navigation if too many links are present 

3. Offer Alternatives To Audio And Video Content 

Audio and video content aren’t for every audience, particularly hearing-impaired individuals. To ensure that users with disabilities can still view the audio and video elements on your site, provide alternatives such as text transcripts to guide them through your content. 

On the other hand, creating alt tags for image, audio, and video files will help visual-impaired users to read or hear alternative descriptions of content showing up on the screen. An alt tag is an essential user experience (UX) element that helps screen-reading tools interpret content and convey it effectively to the user. 

These simple additions can help make a difference to a lot of site visitors and also prevent a lawsuit against you.

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4. Avoid Content Displays Triggering Physical Reactions 

Visual surprises can enhance your website’s design and engagement with users, but they may be more dangerous than advantageous in some cases. While having a bit of creativity won’t hurt your website, refrain from displaying flickering, flashing, and blinking visual elements as they can trigger photosensitive epilepsy. This is a surefire way to get sued for ADA non-compliance.

Take-Home Message On Site Accessibility

Gone are the days when people with disabilities are limited from what they can do in the online world, thanks to ADA and WCAG. Now, it’s time to do your part as a website owner to keep your platform accessible, safe, and enjoyable for everyone who’d like to know more about your business! It will improve site accessibility, boost website SEO, and prevent unnecessary litigation.

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