ADA Compliance is quickly becoming a “hot topic” in the digital realm. Any business with a website can potentially be affected by recent court rulings regarding websites and ADA Compliance. There have been numerous lawsuits involving major companies as well as smaller, local businesses and their websites as they relate to compliance. It is important to understand these court rulings and what it might mean for your business.

What is ADA Compliance?

ADA Compliance falls under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. More specifically, Title III focuses on public accommodations and services operated by private entities. Essentially, this section discusses the way in which businesses can serve customers. ADA requirements create two tasks for businesses in terms of compliance:

  1. Employees with disabilities must be able to execute their jobs. This means that employers need to make accommodations for an employee with a disability to be able to adequately perform the functions of the job. This can include providing disabled-friendly chairs, office equipment, or entrances.
  2. Businesses must make “reasonable” accommodations for customers with disabilities so that they can access services. These accommodations can include wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, and allowing service animals inside.

What Has Happened?

Recently, there have been numerous lawsuits filed under ADA Title III that have involved people of various disabilities trying to access different companies’ websites. In the majority of these cases, the rulings have been in favor of the plaintiff. This means that the company needs to make accommodations available on their website for customers with disabilities.

Many of these lawsuits have been against larger corporations, however, there have been multiple cases against smaller, mom-and-pop type businesses. In both instances, the legal fees from the lawsuit as well as settlements have cost these businesses anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What Does this Mean for Your Business?

Over the last few years, the internet and websites have come to play a larger role in society than they have previously. E Commerce is now a large aspect of the digital experience, and many businesses have transferred activities online from hotel bookings to showtime viewings. With so many aspects of daily life online, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people with disabilities to easily go about their day-to-day lives.

The fact of the matter is, there have been no rulings by the Supreme Court as to whether a business’s website needs to be ADA Compliant. Until the Supreme Court rules in favor of this issue or the US Congress passes legislation that qualifies websites as an extension of “public accommodations'', ADA Compliance is not strictly required by federal law. Considering the recent rulings by the district appeal courts, the lack of legislation and federal court ruling does not mean that non compliant sites are protected against legal action. With the Millenial and Gen Z generations being less likely to stay quiet when faced with adversity, it is quite possible that non compliance could result in a lawsuit against your business.

At the end of the day, every customer appreciates that extra effort a business takes to make their experience that much better. When a business truly cares about their customers, it can create a positive, supportive community behind that business.

Current Accessibility Requirements:

Many accessibility features including Alt tag fields on images, tab navigation, and other items may potentially be incorporated into your website’s current design. However, many of these features are already required accommodations based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which focus on standardizing web protocols so that websites and tools are compatible. WCAG is based four principles:

  1. Perceivability - the user’s ability to perceive content through three senses: sight, sound, and touch
  2. Operability - this refers to ways a user can navigate the site by keyboard, sight assisted navigation, or other alternatives
  3. Understanding - the website should be easy for everyone to understand
  4. Robustness - the website should be compatible with disability focused assistive tools and should use clean HTML and CSS code.

The current ADA regulations rely on the rules that have been established by the WCAG. Maintaining full compliance for a variety of disabilities is best managed by an AI system that can analyze your website and automatically provide corrections.

Auburn Advertising is a public resource service from Inner Spark Creative, a local agency and marketing partner. Inner Spark Creative is a proud provider of ADA Compliance technology that will allow you to reach a new group of potential clients that were previously unavailable to your business. For additional insight into ADA Compliance, contact us today.

*The information presented in this article should not be taken as legal advice but serves as a reference for informative purposes. Please consult your lawyer for legal advice.
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