ADA Website Compliance Checker: What is it and why your business needs it – Learn here

  • 28.01.2021

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Accessibility is a requirement that is as important to virtual space as it is in the real world.

In the USA, accessibility is promised by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which puts protections against discrimination in place for people with disabilities. Thirty years ago, President George H.W. Bush enacted this law that demands more responsibility from places of public accommodations so that they can remove barriers to access that makes it impossible for people with disabilities to avail goods and services otherwise enjoyed by the general public. It is mainly enforced through litigation filed by private individuals. And today, three decades after the passing of the law, the number of lawsuits continue to climb, especially in the State of California which has consistently stayed in the lead since the figures started to be surveyed.

Financial cost of accessibility issues

Just to give you a ballpark idea of how much an ADA violation can set your business back, in California, there is another law significant for concerns about accessibility. The Unruh Civil Rights Act, which also protects against discrimination, mandates an at least $4,000 fine for statutory damages. And this is for each count of violation. Not to mention that you will have to pay the attorney’s fees of the plaintiff and suffer damage to your business reputation.

Needless to say, it might not hinder your operations if you shirk ADA duties once you commence business, but it can prove very detrimental in the long run. You gain the risk of litigation which is usually just a matter of time, while unconsciously losing the patronage of a big chunk of the population.

What does the ADA mean for the internet?

The ADA is made up of five parts or Titles, and for businesses, the most relevant is Title III which is for “Public Accommodations (and Commercial Facilities)”. If your business occupies rented or owned space, it definitely falls under public accommodations. However, a lot of people do get confused if it also covers businesses which run exclusively via websites.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the internet is indeed a place of public accommodation. In a 2018 letter to Congress, the Assistant Attorney General replied that, “This interpretation is consistent with the ADA’S title III requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities.” The observed court consensus on previous lawsuits also shows that as long as your business is covered by Title III of the ADA, if it has a website, your web content must also be ADA compliant.

Despite it being quite some time now since the internet cemented its place in our daily lives, legislation has yet to catch up to the present. ADA compliance is not optional; it is obligatory, but it is also an ideal that is rarely attained in perfection. This goes the same for the internet and websites. While the ADA is mandatory, the guidelines continue to be written and updated and it is up to business owners to apply the best practices to avoid any accessibility issues.

What is an ADA compliant website?

At this point, we probably have you wondering, “Is my website ADA compliant?”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, people are finding more uses for the internet daily. It has become a means for us to keep safe at home while still gaining access to our most essential needs. Now, more than ever, the internet is necessary if we are to keep any sense of stability.

ADA compliance might feel complicated for a lot of people, but it really doesn’t have to be. When you think of websites in terms of audio and visual media, you can easily identify the responsibilities you have to observe in your web content.

Here are a few tips if you want to test your site for web accessibility

  • Since websites present a lot of information in text, it is important to make sure that your pages are free of hard-to-read characters. You need to check on the color contrast and font sizes to ensure a good reading experience for all users who will visit your site.
  • Alt text is the term we use for short descriptions that accompany images. These alt text help persons with vision impairment become aware of the imagery being shown onscreen.
  • Any video on your site must include closed captioning for all the audio that is performed. It doesn’t matter if the video is simply being shared from other websites. You have to take responsibility in case users with hearing impairment experience it from your web page.
  • As much as possible, you must keep your content free of jargon or difficult language. The more comprehensive and the easier it is to understand your products, the better for your website accessibility and for your bottom line.

  • You must take into consideration people who might not be able to use computer mouses to navigate your website. You can check for this easily by using keyboard commands on your website and testing if it allows you to access all pages without having to reach for the computer mouse.
  • Many people now use assistive technology to make daily life more convenient. One of the products necessary for people with blindness to use the internet are screen readers. Find out if this software can readily be applied by users to your website so that they can experience all content you have online.

What is an ADA website compliance checker?

If, based on the tips mentioned above, you find the pressing need to check your website for ADA compliance, maybe it’s time to get a web accessibility evaluation. Whether it be text, photos, or videos, website content change all the time. Your website might be ADA compliant today but not anymore tomorrow.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Web accessibility is not just a concern in the United States; it is an ongoing global effort. The universally acknowledged standards for online accessibility is currently set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which is composed of companies dedicated to the development of the internet. The W3C has published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 which is free for everyone to refer to in place of the lack in online legislation. While not particularly considered ADA standards under the law, the WCAG is still referred to in litigation for web accessibility. A WCAG 2.2 is set to be published by the W3C in the near future.

Web Accessibility Evaluation

The WCAG 2.1 may be quite complex for the layperson. If you are operating a small business with limited access to resources, it may also be easy to miss a lot of points. The best way to check for ADA compliance online is by getting a professional opinion.

An ADA website compliance checker can easily do the trick for you. All you’ll have to do is to provide your website address and a full evaluation can be sent to you after all testing has been run. You’ll be able to identify the issues that you need to correct, forgoing the unwanted stress of a manual evaluation. You’ll also be assisted in making a definite plan to better adhere to ADA standards and the WCAG in the future.

As mentioned before, it may be necessary to get your website evaluation about as often as you think is necessary. It depends on how many updates your site gets on a monthly basis and this is something that you’ll have to decide for yourself. A good place to start is by manual testing like literally getting feedback from persons with disabilities among your clientele. You can use our tips or even refer to professional tools cited by the W3C to check on your site.

If you are interested in getting more information about our ADA website compliance checker, you can send us a message and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as we can.