The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is evolving. Is your business?
The Internet is a marvelous tool for landing and serving customers. In fact, chances are it’s one of your primary vehicles for sharing information, positioning your products and services, and winning sales.
But have you thought about how accessible your site is for the users who interact with it?
If not, you’re missing a significant opportunity. Up to 22% of all online users have disabilities that make it difficult to use many of the Internet’s commercial websites. And sadly, this market segment also depends on the Internet as much—or, in some cases, even more—than the non-disabled to shop, do business, participate in their communities, and access government services.
This represents an opportunity for your business. By updating your website to serve these users, you gain a new market segment almost overnight. You can gain an edge over your competition. And you show leadership in your industry, demonstrating your awareness of the challenges faced by the disabled and your compassion in addressing those challenges.
We also have a clear picture of how to make websites fully accessible, thanks to recent changes in the realm of ADA compliance.
The ADA Goes Virtual—To Make Websites Accessible
The ADA’s original language is all about physical accessibility – until now. Recent court decisions have extended the application of the ADA to the online world. And that’s a good thing. Thanks to new standards set by the courts called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), we understand exactly how to make your website user-friendly to people of all abilities.
Most businesses are adopting WCAG 2.0 AA; that version of the standard is widely considered to be acceptable for website ADA compliance.
But before you task your webmaster with re-coding your entire website, it pays to do some homework. The standards are highly technical, a new industry is emerging in the ADA compliance space, and some players are using questionable tactics to pressure businesses or capitalize on companies’ vulnerability. Other vendors are peddling expensive solutions that may not even deliver the full accessibility your business wants and needs.
Here’s what is happening to some of what we’re seeing unfold today:
- Organized lawsuits. You have probably noticed the television and internet ads asking if you’ve suffered certain kinds of injury or disease, such as mesothelioma, a type of cancer that is linked to asbestos exposure. What you may not realize is that behind the scenes, a “mass-tort machine” is at work, running the ads, recruiting potential plaintiffs, and selling the potential plaintiffs’ names to attorneys. We’re now seeing evidence that something similar is happening today in the ADA compliance space. Now that case law holds that businesses are liable for non-accessible sites, lawyers have jumped into action, systematically suing business after business. This is a “follow the money” moment that should put all companies on alert. You should make sure you’re not vulnerable with a website that is not ADA compliant.
Not convinced? Here’s a list of industries and lawsuits that have been filed against them for not compliance with web accessibility standards:
- Travel/Hospitality: AirBNB, Choice Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels, etc.
- Restaurants/Food Service: Dominos Pizza, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Small Restaurants
- Medical/Health: Digital Health, Epic Systems EHR Software, UNC Health Care
- E-Commerce: Amazon, Apple, Winn Dixie
- Universities/Educational: Univ. of Oregon, Los Angeles Community College
- Beauty/Fitness/Wellness: Fenty Beauty, Louis Vuitton, Planet Fitness
- Entertainment/Leisure: Beyonce Knowles, Hulu, FOX Network, and various Winery websites,
- Insurance: Company and agent sites.
- Retail Stores: Amazon.com, Xerox, Apple, H&M, Dash, Coach, and many small stores.
- Home Services: Various HVAC, plumbing companies, other home services
- Banking/Financial: Capital One, Wells Farg,o and various Credit Unions
- Real Estate Agencies: Miller-Valentine, Compass
- Automotive: Toyota, Uber, Many Auto Dealers
- Government: City of Venice Calif, many Gov Websites, Sheriff websites.
- Plug ins and widgets for compliance. Some service providers are offering to audit business websites and identify elements that are not ADA compliant. While it may be good to know if your site fails to meet accessibility standards, be aware that an audit, alone, doesn’t fix anything. Just because you spend money—sometimes, a lot of money—on an expensive report doesn’t mean you’re actually reducing compliance risks or solving accessibility problems. Beware, as well, of plugins that do not cover all the WCAG 2.0 standards, or companies that say you need to re-code your site for thousands of dollars.
- Burdening your webmaster is expensive and time consuming . Recoding your website to keep up with ADA compliance is complicated, and the additional workload may result in the need for more headcount. The more complex your website is, the more expensive and complicated it will be to maintain compliance. Bringing a website into compliance with ADA best practices is also a specialized task. Without the right knowledge, your webmasters can quickly find themselves out of their depth. In addition, future site updates or changes can knock you back out of WCAG compliance, further adding to the cost and complexity of the re-coding option.
Fortunately, bringing your business website into ADA compliance—and avoiding the hassle of annoying lawsuits—doesn’t have to be high-pressure, complicated, or expensive.
Introducing Porter Pro ADA Website Service: Fast, Cost-Effective WCAG Compliance
At Porter Consulting, we believe there should be a better way for you to protect your business and welcome “differently-abled” website visitors.
Porter has the solution that makes your website compliant quickly and affordably. Porter Pro ADA service, uses Artificial Intelligence to bring your website into ADA compliance within 48 hours. You don’t ever touch the inside pages of your code, and your website stays in compliance even after updates—saving you thousands of dollars or more in website coding, testing, and support costs, while ensuring your site is fully accessible to virtually any visitor looking for information about your products or services.
Once we realized the significance of being ADA compliant, we used our solution to make our own site compliant. Click the blue Accessible Icon on the lower part of this screen to see it in action.
Want to learn more? Contact Porter Consulting today at firstname.lastname@example.org.