The American Disabilities Act has been around since 1990. It’s what gave us handicapped parking spaces, wheelchair ramps, and more. It allows the nearly 1 in 5 people in the United States the same access as everyone else.
What most people don’t consider, though, is how ADA compliance affects the web (and this includes websites and web apps). For those of us who can access websites with ease every single day, we may not even think about what it would take for an individual with any sort of impairment to access that same information.
This is where ADA website compliance comes in.
ADA Website Compliance Defined
If you’ve been paying attention to the news or the web industry, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about companies getting sued because people with disabilities can’t access certain features of websites. If someone is unable to access content on the web, that is creating a clear barrier to that company’s products, services, or information to that person with a disability.
The American Disabilities Act, as created in 1990, applied to any public space. In today’s world, however, the internet IS public space. It’s how we bank. It’s how we shop. It’s how we apply for mortgages. It’s how we get food. Because of this, having a non-compliant website is a legal risk.
Some huge names in business are getting served with lawsuits because their websites are not equally accessible to those with disabilities. Names you may recognize are Beyonce, Nike, Harvard, MIT, and others.
Since the ADA was built to apply to public, brick-and-mortar spaces, the web wasn’t considered at the time. Now, however, we have a set of guidelines we can adhere to in order to make sure that our websites are meeting the latest accessibility standards and allowing equal access to all.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (also known often as WCAG) we created to help website owners and web developers create websites that are accessible to those using assistive technology (i.e. screen readers).
These guidelines help to give the industry some uniformity on how to achieve website compliance. There are also versions of those standards that you may have heard of: WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1. WCAG 2.1 was released in June 2018, but most judges and courts rule that WCAG 2.0 is the acceptable place to be.
In addition to WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, there are levels of accessibility you can meet.
- A = below acceptable
- AA = standard (and where most companies should be)
- AAA = exceptional (it’s great if you can, but it is not required)
You’re probably wondering now:
“Does my website need to be ADA compliant?”
Just because we’ve seen big companies targeted with lawsuits does not mean that smaller companies aren’t at risk. We recently heard of a local company that was targeted – they don’t feature any online shopping and their products likely aren’t going to be used by someone with a disability since they are physical in nature – BUT they must meet WCAG 2.0 standards.
Now that you know that you should make your website ADA compliant, your next question is going to likely be about the cost to make your website ADA compliant.
ADA Website Compliance Costs
This is a hard question to answer. Web development and programming isn’t really something you can sell off the shelf and it often requires a team of experts, comprehensive planning, and each project has different requirements. Therefore, it’s hard to say, “ADA compliance costs $1,000.” (That was just an example.)
When it comes to any custom web work, it first begins with a discovery phase. If you have an existing website that you are not looking to redesign anytime soon, your next best step will be to complete an ADA website compliance audit.
This audit should include a team of web developers that login to the back-end of your website and see the structure of the code among other things. Once they get the “lay of the land,” they can then get a rough estimate together about what it will take to get the site to the latest standards.
For Atilus, this audit may start at around $1,500, but this also depends on the size and number of pages on the website. If a company approached us to complete an audit for ADA compliance, we would ask the following questions:
- How old is your website?
- How many pages are on your website?
- How many templates/page types are on your website?
- What framework was your website built on?
There are more questions we’d likely ask, but you can get the sense that we’d need to have a decent understanding of how your website operates before we can move forward.
Once the audit is complete, then the real work begins. Again, the cost to make updates to ensure that your website is compliant could take anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000 and up. This all depends on how your website was built and how many pages there are.
The initial audit and updates are complete. However, much like SEO, meeting ADA compliance standards are not a “one and done” kind of project. Given that accessibility standards and versions change, so too will your website. We highly recommend ongoing auditing for ADA compliance and the timing of this audit/maintenance will depend again on how large your website is and how many visitors you receive.
All in all, ADA website compliance has a budget associated with it, but when you factor in that some ADA website lawsuits are settling for $50,000 (and up), it is definitely worth the investment.
- An ADA website compliance audit can start at around $1,500 – and this doesn’t include the work to help get the site to compliance
- The actual work to make the site compliant can range from anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000 and up – again, this depends on the current state of the website, the number pages, etc.
- Ongoing auditing and maintenance is an absolute must – this can cost anywhere from $500 – $1,000 per month (again, depending on the size and scope of the website)
Consult with Atilus on an ADA Website Compliance Audit Today
ADA website compliance is not something we recommend simply because of the threat of legal action (although, it is an incentive for most businesses to want to act). We believe in web accessibility for all and because of this, we push our team members to stay up-to-date on the latest on all accessibility for websites.
We’re well-versed in the requirements set forth by the ADA and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. We’re eager to help small, medium, and large businesses achieve and maintain compliance. To learn more about our ADA website compliance services, contact us here or call us at (239) 362-1271.