In 1990, the United States passed a comprehensive civil rights law that was enacted to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination called The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is the reason we have things like disabled parking requirements, service counter height requirements, and wheelchair ramp mandates in building codes. This act came one year before the first web page went live on August 6, 1991. Since this time, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been tasked to keep up with the ever-evolving world wide web, updating ADA compliance constantly.
ADA Compliance + Websites
So, what happens when a business fails to meet the changing rules and regulations? Let’s check out what’s happening in one New York industry: art galleries. In 2018, over 75 galleries were sued for not maintaining ADA compliant websites. This trend is only growing. In the U.S., the number of federal website accessibility lawsuits reached 2.2K in 2018. That works out to a 177% increase from 2017. This tremendous increase in compliance cases is in large part a result of vague descriptions of the ADA. However, regardless of why a website is not compliant, the penalties can be steep.
Wondering if your website is in compliance?
ADA Non-Compliance Penalties
Organizations and businesses can be fined up to $75,000 for a single ADA violation, raising that fine to $150,000 for additional violations. This is a pretty large bill for most businesses and can have devastating effects.
Comparing the cost of upgrading your website to a hefty ADA fine and suddenly affordable website migrations don’t seem expensive in the least. When hiring a web developer, it is important to choose a company that understands the laws in your state and knows how to ensure a compliant migration.
The ADA states, "No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation."
As the Internet has become a major source of goods and services, many courts have shifted to include websites as places of “public accommodation”. This interpretation has varied among courts, resulting in a circuit split regarding whether a website must have a brick-and-mortar store tie, such as a physical restaurant, to fall within the scope of the ADA.
The only way to avoid the negative outcomes of neglecting to meet ADA standards is to maintain the compliance of your site.
Beyond the financial risk of ADA compliance, one must ask the moral question: why should resources and information be inaccessible to select groups? ADA compliance is centered around providing impartial services to all citizens, regardless of their ability. Making websites accessible to all only takes a few simple adjustments, but can make a huge difference in people’s lives.
Guidelines for maintaining ADA compliance are posted here.
Beyond this, our web developers here at O8 offer an extensive audit of your website to determine if it meets ADA compliance criteria. We assess if the site provides the best possible user experience for people using assistive technology.
Our audit process will identify any and all issues that might be affecting website navigation for people using assistive technology and offer detailed recommendations on how to address each one.