Imagine your life without access to the Internet, especially if you are not able to leave your home. How would you access information and basic needs like food, clothing, financial services and entertainment? About 20% of the population experiences challenges accessing the internet because of one or more of a variety of disabilities and the lack of website accessibility.
We have all heard about businesses with physical locations needing to make adjustments to accommodate disabled patrons, but what about online destinations? As our economy shifts to conducting business online, it is more important than ever to make websites accessible. Business owners face the risk of unnecessary lawsuits, fines and penalties, which can be avoided quite easily with minor modifications to websites. Making your website accessible will help you reach and serve more clients, generate higher satisfaction, community goodwill and business growth.
So who is filing ADA compliance lawsuits?
Associations and organizations for people with disabilities and law firms are teaming up to form class action lawsuits against large organizations and companies, like Harvard, Netflix, Uber, Chipotle, Domino’s and even musicians like Beyonce. These lawsuits generally cite Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. They are targeting companies with online accessibility barriers to make it easier for disabled people to access the internet. As more companies are conducting business online, the pace is accelerating – one federal-funded accessibility lawsuit is filed per hour! (UsableNet’s 2019 ADA Website and App Accessibility Lawsuit Report)
What types of changes are necessary to achieve Web Accessibility for disabled customers?
Getting and staying compliant can keep your business running smoothly, attracting new, valuable, grateful customers. It can also keep you out of the courtroom, avoiding fines, penalties and legal fees! The landscape and standards for website accessibility are constantly changing, and require a deep understanding of a wide range of disabilities and technologies. They include but are not limited to:
- Alternative text for every image so that screen reader software can navigate a site with or without a keyboard
- Providing high contrast between the site background and text for easy readability
- Providing a way to enlarge text
- Making sure forms can be navigated and completed by people using screen readers
- Closed captions or transcripts for video and audio content so that the hard of hearing can interact with your content
However, these accommodations don’t have to be expensive or time consuming for a business owner. We work with tools that can streamline this process to automate the accommodations using the latest standards and certify compliance with no impact to the design or functionality of your current website.
What Industries Are Most at Risk?
While every industry could be targeted, some of the most prone to lawsuits are:
- Education – Current and potential students must be able to apply for admission, pay tuition and fees, find and register for classes, attend and access materials from virtual classes, submit work, connect with educators and support resources.
- Restaurants & Hospitality – Current and potential clients must be able to research your offerings, reserve, book and pay for meals and accommodations.
- Healthcare – Current and prospective clients must be able to research your offerings, book appointments and view medical test results and notes securely.
- Sports & Entertainment – current and potential clients must be able to research your offerings, reserve, book and pay for tickets, streaming services and more.
Being proactive about website accessibility is more important than ever for businesses of all sizes. You’ve worked so hard to create a great business and website. Now more than ever, it is important both ethically and financially to protect your business from Web Accessibility lawsuits.
Is your website is ADA compliant? We can do a quick check for you and help you make some simple, affordable changes to correct any issues.
For do it yourself types, check out: