Imagine if you couldn’t effectively use the internet. Would your daily life change? We’re gonna go out on a limb and assume the answer is a resounding ABSOLUTELY for most of us.
Some of us living on our planet don't have a choice in the matter and are at a distinct disadvantage when trying to use the Internet that is so easily accessible to others. Per the latest US census report, the percentage of the disabled population in the States increased significantly from 19% in 2017 to 22% in 2018. Many of these people struggle to access the data, entertainment and basic benefits the internet offers.
The internet isn’t exactly handicap accessible. The American Disability Act (ADA) doesn’t quite have a solid foothold when it comes to the web. Physical establishments often aren’t even allowed to open without having taken reasonable precautions to ensure that people with disabilities can utilize their services efficiently.
YET, many of these very same establishments overlook similar barriers to accessibility on their own websites.
WHO HAS TO COMPLY?
First, understand which businesses are required to comply.
Under Title I of the ADA, any business with at least 15 full-time employees that operates for 20 or more weeks every year is covered by the law to be ADA Compliant.
Under Title III, businesses that fall into the category of "public accommodation," such as hotels, banks and public transportation, are also required to comply. That means the entirety of the law applies, from physical considerations to digital accommodations.
Many people with disabilities already have to implement specifically designed tools and software just to access the web. Most of these tools, such as screen readers for those with visual disabilities, simply attempt to translate web pages into their simplest, navigable form.
This means that, for individuals using these aids, these websites have to be coded and organized in such a manner that logical navigation and content interpretation can be accomplished with a few keystrokes.
Unfortunately, most Web Sites are not built to work this way.
How do you make a reasonable effort to allow access to this group of people?
Anything That Can Be Heard (Videos, Sound Bites, etc.) Must Have a Written Description.
Screen Reader Software Audibly Reads the Visual Parts of Your Website and PDFs. Items Such as Pictures and Buttons Must Have Descriptions Added in the Code.
Website Navigation Must be Possible Without Using a Mouse. This is Accomplished by Utilizing Dozens of Keyboard Shortcuts.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
Failing to comply with the ADA means your business is vulnerable to lawsuits. It is becoming more and more common for attorneys to seek out noncompliant businesses in both brick and mortar AND digital presences.
Who has been sued? Target, GNC, Amazon, Patagonia, Netflix, to name a few.
Beyond legal consequences, failure to provide accessibility to users with disabilities is just bad business. Not only is it good HUMAN practice as a member of this planet, but not being accessible means losing out on business. If users can't navigate your website, you are missing sales opportunities to this group.
AND a bonus! ADA compliancy makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website, pushing it up in the rankings and getting your web content in front of more users.
At Chocolate Dog Media, we take ADA Compliancy seriously with:
- Comprehensive Web Site Audits to let you know what's missing on your site.
- Installation and Monitoring of Cloud Based Technology that adds a multitude of tools and AI to make your site accessible to all.
- No automated solution is enough. We manually interact with your site to manually update and add compliant Alternate Image Tags and Descriptions to not only increase Accessibility but to ensure SEO remains at the best it can be