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How to Avoid an ADA Website Compliance Lawsuit

You are likely here because you’re researching about ADA and website compliance. You’ve maybe heard stories about big companies like Winn-Dixie, Domino’s Pizza, and more getting sued for something related to their website. Now, you’re likely wondering “is my website at risk of getting sued, too?”

ADA website compliance lawsuits are not just being targeted to big companies like the ones mentioned above. We recently heard about a local company that was in the process of getting sued for their website being out of compliance and it was either meet those standards or settle for $50,000. Whoa.

Here, we’re going to break down the steps you can take to avoid an ADA website compliance lawsuit for your own company. First, we’re going to explain more about what this all means and how it relates to your business.

What is ADA Website Compliance?

ADA refers to the American Disabilities Act. If you own and operate a public space, you probably have a good understanding of what this means. Things like wheelchair ramps, handicapped parking, and braille are all the result of the American Disabilities Act. This allows the 1 in 5 people in the United States the ability to enjoy and take part in the same public space as everyone else.

The ADA, however, did not originally include anything about accessibility for websites or web apps. Technology has evolved immensely since the ADA first came about and there is so much that happens on the web that we now consider it a public space. We do our banking, shopping, and so much more on our phones, tablets, and computers that it only makes sense that websites should be built with the same accessibility standards as brick and mortar places.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These guidelines were set forth to give website owners a set of standards to work from so that those with disabilities can access all content on a website.

These guidelines help to ensure that all websites are:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

There are also versions of WCAG that are released as technology improves. The latest set of standards was released in June 2018 and those are referred to WCAG 2.1. However, the version before that – WCAG 2.0, is where most websites are expected to be.

There are certain checklists you can use for your website, but every website is so different that it’s not something you can simply “do.” ADA website compliance requires an initial audit, comprehensive development work, and ongoing maintenance. If you’re concerned about whether your website meets ADA website compliance standards, contact Atilus and we’ll consult with you on an audit and ongoing maintenance needs.

ADA Website Compliance Lawsuits are on the Rise

Did you know that Beyonce was sued for her website not meeting WCAG 2.0 standards? (Yes, the Beyonce Knowles-Carter.)

These lawsuits are affecting businesses in all industries and are of all sizes. You don’t need to have a brick and mortar location to be worried about this and if ADA website compliance is not on your radar, it should be. Here, we’ll explain 3 key steps you can take to help you avoid an ADA website compliance lawsuit.

Step 1: Add an Accessibility Statement to Your Website

The first step you can take is to add an accessibility statement to your website. This is a statement (kind of like a privacy policy) where you can let your users know that you’re working on making your website accessible to all.

This statement should let users know you are working on auditing your website to meet WCAG 2.0 standards, contact information for someone who is having issues accessing your website, and that you’ll consistently audit your website to ensure it continues to maintain compliance.

Step 2: Complete an ADA Website Compliance Audit

Now that you’ve added your accessibility statement to your website, you will need to begin your website audit. It really wouldn’t matter whether your website was built in the last 10 years or in the last 10 months. Chances are there could be key accessibility elements you are missing.

There are scanning tools and plugins available, but we caution using those tools because they may not provide an in-depth report. We typically recommend a live user audit (meaning humans with disabilities that use and test your website) or that you have a professional web development firm complete the audit for you.

Step 3: Implement Changes & Monitor Regularly

Once your ADA website compliance audit is complete and the changes are made, it’s important to continuously review your website to ensure it’s meeting WCAG 2.0 standards. Just because you’ve “achieved” compliance doesn’t mean it will stay that way – it’s an ongoing process. For example, you may have your employees update your website and make a change that isn’t in line with accessibility standards – thus, hindering your compliance efforts.

Additionally, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are not static. We can expect to see them evolve over time as technology becomes more advanced. We just had WCAG 2.1 released in June 2018 and we can expect this to evolve once again in another year or so.

Get an ADA Website Compliance Audit Today

If you’re still in the beginning stages of wondering what this all means, you are more than welcome to reach out to Atilus. We’re a web design and development firm in Bonita Springs that can help you get your website to meet the latest WCAG 2.0 AA standards. We’re well-versed in the requirements and stay up-to-date on the latest web trends – whether they are related to accessibility or not.

Contact us through our website today or call (239) 362-1271.

Kristen Bachmeier
Kristen Bachmeier
Kristen Bachmeier is Atilus' Director of Operations and helps to oversee all client accounts and day-to-day operations. Additionally, Kristen has worked in digital marketing for 6+ years and has helped create digital marketing plans for most of our clients.

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