What is ADA and what does it have to do with the internet?
As a result of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, Congress set out to ensure that businesses and public service providers make significant changes to accommodate people with disabilities. The legislation itself is divided into many titles, each of which sets requirements in different contexts. Its standards are constantly updated over time.
When the ADA guidelines were originally published, the Internet as we know it didn’t exist in the way it does today. Much more trading and social activity is happening online these days! Although ADA legislation has failed to keep up with the digital age, many companies and organizations in the United States still face their legal obligations to provide web accessibility in order to comply with regulations.
In recent years, more and more emphasis has been placed on inclusion. This not only applies to personal communication, written information or stationary business, inclusivity also includes access to resources, services and data that are also relevant for websites. Ideally, websites and online tools should be developed and tested according to the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). However, many of them have accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for certain people to use, leaving out a significant portion of the Internet surfing population. This is where ADA compliance comes into play, and that’s why it’s so important.
The website’s lack of ADA compliance is more common than we think
ADA compliance extends to websites that can be accessed from devices other than computers and that must be accessible to those with hearing, visual, or physical impairments.
Over the past several years, Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities Center for Persons with Disabilities Web AIM initiative has conducted accessibility assessments on the websites of the millions of leading websites.
According to the 2020 study, 97.4 percent of homepages had identifiable WCAG 2 violations. The truth is that if a website isn’t intentionally designed and developed to be accessible, it just isn’t.
How winnings stay on the table
About 4.57 billion people use the Internet regularly. Consumers in the United States alone spent approximately $ 517.36 billion online. These numbers are significant when you understand the potential purchasing power of people with disabilities, which is estimated at $ 490 billion in the United States alone. If the website is inaccessible, more than 60 million Americans will be excluded.
Additionally, if it does not meet their accessibility requirements, 69 percent of customers with disabilities will leave the site immediately, according to the report. Another 80% of consumers with disabilities said they would spend more money on a website with better accessibility features.
The benefits of following the web accessibility guidelines
Web accessibility improves everyone’s Internet experience.
Most websites are unsuitable for people with vision or hearing problems and academic, cognitive, and other challenges. When websites correct this and become accessible online, they will become easier for the disabled community to browse and use, making these websites easier for everyone to use.
Accessible websites increase engagement and sales.
Companies with accessibility barriers make it difficult for people with disabilities to buy goods, use their services, communicate their needs and deal with their material. Web accessibility is a must for business owners who recognize the importance of taking care of their entire customer base.
ADA-compliant websites can save businesses thousands of dollars in fines and legal costs.
There has been a steady increase in litigation or suspected ADA violations over the past 5 years. A number of these lawsuits have cited restaurants and retailers, but other sectors are also involved. Recently in 2021, the American grocery delivery and pick-up service Instacart was sued for lack of accessibility to the ADA website. The plaintiff mentioned that many areas of the website could not be recognized by its screen reader, which was an obstacle to purchasing the website’s products. When ADA compliance is considered throughout the website’s UX design process (user experience), such claims can be prevented.
Why not have a head start?
An ADA compliant website helps develop trust, improve search engine rankings, and strengthen the relationship between the company and its target audiences. Alienation from users with impairments is not conducive to long-term business health.
Implementation process for web ADA accessibility
It is important for companies to recognize their potential risks and to remedy them at any time. As a best practice, our web development team at Reverence Global enables, for example, manual and automated audits for existing websites before creating an accessibility strategy based on the WCAG 2 standards. Unfortunately, the visual design and branding of the website are often in direct conflict with accessibility requirements. This triggers an extensive process including generating redesign mockups with multiple revisions, user testing and feedback, adjustments, custom programming, etc. Once this process is complete and the final version has been approved by everyone involved, implementation begins. Ultimately, while this is a comprehensive process, adhering to ADA rules for websites should be a high priority.
Author: Geraldine Convento
Geraldine is a web presence and SEO expert at Reverence Global, a digital marketing agency. For the past 20+ years, she has worked with thousands of companies and organizations worldwide to help them grow, reach more people, and attract more leads. She leads a team of outstanding strategists, web developers, … Show complete profile >