ADA Website And eCommerce Compliance
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 in an effort to reduce discrimination against disabled Americans. All websites (WordPress, Drupal, Wix) and eCommerce sites (Bigcommerce, Shopify, Volusion, 3DCart, Magento, Miva) MUST be ADA Compliant!
The ADA ensures that facilities in the United States provide reasonable accommodation for disabled people and remove any access barriers. These can include handicapped parking spots, ramps for wheelchairs, menus written in Braille, and close-captioned movie screenings.
While “access barriers” used to refer to literal physical barriers such as stairs or ramps, it has since been expanded to include websites and online content as well. The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created to help websites make their content accessible by assistive technologies and has been considered the global standard for web accessibility.
In accordance with the ADA and WCAG, websites must provide reasonable accommodation for users with disabilities. If a website does not comply with ADA and WCAG standards, a company may face extensive lawsuits and legal penalties. With our ADA and WCAG compliance services, we can help your business avoid unnecessary fines and settlements as well as open your website to an entirely new pool of users.
In the media
Analysis & Audit
What Is ADA Website Compliance?
ADA website compliance means providing “reasonable accommodation” and reducing “access barriers”. Currently, the US Department of Justice follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as their legal standard to determine what is reasonable accommodation and what is an access barrier.
The WCAG are international communal standards for website accessibility. They were created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to assist in ADA compliance for the Internet.
This assistance includes three defined levels of ADA compliance:
- A, the lowest level, does not meet ADA standards, because it focuses on fixing surface elements for websites.
- AA, the middle level, covers a reasonable ground for websites that meets ADA guidelines.
- AAA, the highest level, focuses on accommodating most if not all disabilities and even covers sign language interpretation. While AAA is the most lawsuit-proof, it’s also the most restrictive and costly to implement and can reduce potential interactive elements.
We need ADA website compliance to reach out to disabled consumers, to increase overall accessibility, and to prevent lawsuits proactively. Disabled consumers are a potential target market that should not be overlooked. In addition, building goodwill with consumers can lead to positivity in the long run.
In 2018, there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits on the grounds of compliance. One individual, Jason Camacho, sued 50 different colleges nationwide for not having accessible websites for screen readers. That number is bound to increase, especially as more people gain Internet access. Legal penalties can include fines and financial damages, which can sink a small business and bankrupt employers.
What Is WCAG Compliance?
WCAG stands for “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” and are considered the world standard for web accessibility. The first WCAG guidelines were published in 1999 and consisted of 14 guidelines addressing a general principle of accessible web design.
Established in December 2018, WCAG 2.0 succeeds WCAG 1.0 and extends the original guidelines with 17 more criteria organized under 4 focuses.
The focuses are:
- Perceivable: This refers to issues related to a user’s ability to perceive and process information on a given webpage. For example, providing descriptive alt text to images and captions to videos would fall under this category.
- Operable: Your website needs to be usable and navigable by visitors with disabilities. This includes making it possible to operate your website through a keyboard for those who may not be able to use a mouse.
- Understandable: According to WCAG, “Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.”
- Robust: A compliant website needs to be able to adapt to the changing needs and technologies of web accessibility.
WCAG 2.1, which went into effect in June 2018, sought to improve the 2.0 guidelines in three areas:
- users with cognitive or learning disabilities
- users with low vision
- users with disabilities on mobile devices.
ADA Web Accessibility Services We Offer
ADA Compliance Audit
The ADA Audit that we conduct analyzes your website based on the established WCAG standards. We will take a look at your website, test it using our in-house built tools and technologies, and deliver a report as to what changes need to be made to your site.
ADA Compliant Website Design
New ADA standards and regulations have been introduced in the past few years. Make sure your site continues to be compliant with the latest standards and avoid costly legal battles with our help.
Platforms we support are Bigcommerce, Shopify, Volusion, 3DCart, Magento, Miva, WordPress and more.
As of 2019, governments, higher education, and business-to-customer websites (B2C) are legally mandated to follow ADA compliance. Regulations especially target colleges and universities, as well as online stores with brick-and-mortar locations.
Expect regulations to become stricter, however as time passes. The number of lawsuits related to ADA website compliance have increased exponentially.
Follow the Web Content Access Guidelines, and run an ADA audit to find a simple checklist of improvements to make. There are free tools online to find simple errors to fix.
Optimum7 will provide a more detailed and customized audit to suit your website’s needs.
There are 61 WCAG regulations you must fulfill to be considered fully ADA compliant. They include but are not limited to providing text and time-based media alternatives, readily-available navigation, and readable web content. Here are a few simple guidelines:
- Format lists correctly.
- Add descriptive alt-text to images.
- Add captions to all video and audio content.
ADA compliance trolls are users who specifically seek out websites that are not ADA compliant to file suit. This disproportionately affects independent web developers and small business owners, who risk shutdown or financial losses.
Currently, there is no solid legal defense against an ADA compliance troll except to make sure your website is ADA compliant and to improve search-engine optimization (SEO).
Plaintiffs have a greater incentive to file suit and receive money than to actually encourage compliance. These suits also violate the integrity of ADA-related lawsuits that genuinely ask for better accommodation and reduced access barriers, which increases the risk of judicial ableism.
Making your website fully ADA and WCAG compliant is no simple undertaking. Avoid costly legal battles using our ADA Website Compliance services!