Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) compliance tells us that websites must be accessible for anyone, regardless of disability. Title III of the ADA indicates that any website with services that are available to the general public must be inclusive towards all people, including people with disabilities. If we choose to ignore this act, we could face litigation, lose ranking in search, and (most importantly) the loss of potential customers.
Now, some of the lawsuits have been debated as having created a vacuous situation, however, every workplace should be accessible to all in order to insure fair access, regardless of disability, and that includes a business website.
Federal Web Inaccessibility Lawsuits Are on the Rise
As a business owner, it is highly recommended to not avoid accessibility compliance. Federal lawsuits are on the rise, with federal lawsuits filed last year spiking from just 814 lawsuits the year before to a total of 2,258 lawsuits, according to an analysis by Seyfarth Shaw¹, an international legal firm. That’s triple the number of cases over one year.
One of the larger cases dates involves a blind man who filed against Domino’s Pizza. He found that their website and mobile application were inaccessible to him. Initially, the case was dismissed by a federal judge, but recently the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed this decision. This reversal, based out of a filing in California, may trigger more lawsuits in the state, as well as nationwide.
But, guess what? The guy has a point!
Danielle, a project manager here at Smack Happy, recently spoke with her brother about accessibility and Deaf anxiety. It’s really not fair. Alexia Kemerling, an author on The Mighty wrote,
As a child with hearing loss I was taught to read lips, to enunciate my own speech, to carefully clean and store my hearing aids. Surrounded by a community of able-bodied people, I was also taught to blend in and pass as a hearing person.
The nod and smile, the awkward half-laugh — these are my go-to responses for when I don’t hear something. After 15 years of wearing hearing aids you would think I would be more comfortable saying, “I can’t hear you. Could you repeat that?” but at times I still find it challenging and awkward.
It is not that I am ashamed of my hearing loss or my hearing aids. These things are a part of who I am, and I am proud of my identity. I think the challenge comes from years of training myself to pretend. It comes from living in a world that is often slow to accommodate and reluctant to understand. I put a lot of pressure on myself to single-handedly compensate for all the challenges my disability presents, rather than asking the world around me to be accommodating; and it is exhausting.
Danielle has written about this topic over the years, including a post about learning ASL and the importance of communication. While this is just one example, the point is that we don’t all have to be experts, but if you care about your business—it might be worth a few updates to show that you care about all of the people who keep you in business. Just showing that you’re trying, and taking the appropriate steps to become more accessible is everything. Accessibility is something that most of our population will benefit from.
Accessible Websites Benefit Millions of People
Domino’s Pizza being inaccessible is just one example of a large company affecting its disabled customers’ convenience, but think about how the entire world benefits from proper access to any website today. For example, what if a blind person wanted to access bus departure times or rideshare programs from their phone, but couldn’t? What about checking the weather, or their bank account? Now, what about the accessibility of other products and services that will benefit their lives, such as those that may be found on your business website? Should those with disabilities be denied that use of the internet, and have to wait on a more able-bodied person to help them? Especially if you’re in an education niche, you must take care of your website accessibility. For example, CPA exam courses are in high demand but, according to this page, none of the companies put accessibility as their unique selling point. In the world of high competition, you may want to distinguish your brand from the others and put accessibility as a top priority. Making your website accessible is integral, and worthwhile.
How You Can Make Your Website More Accessible
If you’re worried that you have to change the entire style and dynamic of your website and brand, you’re wrong. There are updates here and there that you can make now, and continue to build upon over time. This doesn’t need to be a huge website overhaul (unless you truly need it…but that’s another post for another day). Ways to make a website more accessible can include the following:
- Integrating the use of voice input and toggle switches alongside the use of traditional typing on a keyboard
- Updating alternative text (“ALT”) image tags to aid those who cannot look at images, and may benefit from descriptive text being read to them
- The ability to magnify a website
- Adding an accessibility statement or a widget that can help you accomplish all of the above and more
For a more complete list of how you should meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”), here’s a brief reference guide: https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG21/quickref/.
Need Help Making Your Website Accessible?
Smack Happy Design can help make your website ADA-compliant and fully-accessible to all of its visitors. We work closely with businesses to ensure that their websites have the ability to reach all current and potential customers.
Visit our ”ADA Compliance for Websites” page and reach out if you have questions or want more information about accessibility for your website today.