While nearly every business and franchise has a website, most websites are not ADA accessible. Under US law, websites must be accessible to every user, including those with disabilities. If your website is not ADA compliant, your business is opened up to potential lawsuits.
Considering 98.1% of the one million website homepages tested by WebAIM had ADA accessibility failures, nearly every site has improvements to make. The 2019 WebAIM report concluded that there is significant work to be done in web accessibility, especially because inaccessibility and errors are slowly increasing.
If your website is not ADA compliant, you’re risking a potential lawsuit. A lack of accessibility can also lead users to bounce quickly from your site, often never to return. Considering the rise in lawsuits over the last few years, it’s wise to take steps towards compliance.
California & New York: Most at Risk
Currently California, New York, and Florida are the top 3 states for ADA website compliance lawsuits. If you’re in one of these three states, we recommend auditing your site as soon as possible. Both California and New York also have state civil rights acts that mirror federal guidelines, making ADA lawsuits more common. Additionally, these state acts allow plaintiffs to seek monetary damages beyond attorney fees and court costs, so the potential risk is even higher in these two states in particular. Regardless of where your franchise operates, making sure that your website is in compliance with Title III guidelines will go a long way towards avoiding future ADA lawsuits.
The average cost of an ADA website accessibility lawsuit is $10,000 to $350,000 depending on the complexity of the case and total number of hours spent.
This figure is only for one accessibility complaint.
If you have multiple complaints in a year, this can quickly add up to a detrimental figure. If you’re a small website or franchise, this can put you out of business. Even larger websites and corporations can be set back years if they incur these costs.
In addition to the direct costs of lawyers, fines, and penalties, your website can also lose out on revenue from potential customers, ad traffic, and lost leads. There are approximately 61 million people with a disability in the United States, according to the CDC.
If your website is not digitally accessible for those with disabilities, you are ignoring a significant portion of the market. Don’t leave money on the table!
While there are over 30 factors that should be addressed, there are common categories that most sites struggle with. The most common failures include:
Many of these failures can be corrected with simple design and layout changes, accessibility by screen reader, text transcripts of videos, keyboard tab navigation enablement, color contrast of text to background, descriptive anchor text, and captions.
There are a wide variety of disabilities people live with, but disabled users that need Web Content Accessibility Guidelines usually fall into certain categories. By considering these disability categories, we can more easily address their needs and corresponding solutions.
Users with impaired vision may have trouble reading the words on the screen or seeing images, so you need descriptive alt text and screen reader compatibility. Those with physical disabilities could struggle to use a mouse to navigate the website, so you need keyboard enabled navigation. For users that have hearing impairments, you must provide written transcripts for video and audio clips.
The best way to avoid potential ADA website accessibility suits is to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are an internationally-recognized set of guidelines from the W3C. While the WCAG have not been passed into law, they are cited in many court cases, making it the best guidance to follow.
There are four principles that govern accessibility: Operable, Perceivable, Understandable, and Robust. These ideas impact a variety of website aspects, including:
You can read up on current regulations and WCAG, as well as check examples of compliant sites. However, there are over 30 recognized accessibility standards applying to websites, so website owners must consider a broad range of factors. With the amount of standards you must follow, your site must be intentionally optimized for accessibility.
You need an expert to help ensure you cover all your bases.
The best way to know that your website is ADA compliant is through regular auditing. These in-depth inspections allow an expert reviewer to go over your site and ensure that every piece is analyzed for compatibility. Once a site audit is completed, you can start to address the issues found.
While combing through your site and implementing solutions seems daunting, it’s imperative you’re following all accessibility guidelines. This will ensure protection from lawsuits and a quality user experience for all. But you don’t have to do it alone!
We employ specialists in ADA accessibility website compliance to ensure our clients are protected from potential lawsuits and provide an optimal user experience. Our Title III website compliance experts possess a deep understanding of assistive technologies, website code, legal awareness, disability cases, and potential challenges for websites. We can find and fix all ADA accessibility issues by implementing solutions that work long-term!
Additionally, with new content added to websites regularly, we can train your team on how to keep your site ADA compliant. You should also schedule occasional accessibility audits to ensure best practices are consistently implemented by your team. This will ensure you avoid lawsuits down the road.
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