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If your business is online compatible, you must understand the importance of website accessibility. Accessibility is a legal requirement that now spans to ensure that all webpages are ADA-compliant.

Laws have made ADA compliance mandatory, meaning that businesses of any size can incur large fines or even be sued for failure to meet ADA compliance standards. What does ADA compliance mean for your business? Simply put, it means making your website accessible for all, much like you would for a brick-and-mortar location.

In the online world, you must make your website ADA-compliant for people of all abilities. According to statistics, 98% of websites are not ADA-compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

ADA standards were created to foster inclusivity in the real world and online spaces. Accessibility widgets can help simplify the process for all business owners, allowing them to include an often overlooked segment of the market while avoiding any fallout from federal agencies or state and local governments.

Accessibly is the easiest and most efficient way to follow all ADA standards and provide access to digital experiences for everyone regardless of their abilities. See how our widget for website accessibility can quickly get you on the right track to gain more sales while avoiding legal woes. Start your free Accessibly trial today!

What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive and complex item of civil rights legislation that was signed into American law on July 26, 1990. The ADA was designed to prohibit discrimination of individuals based on disabilities and to guarantee equal opportunities in society for those living with disabilities. The law was modeled after another comprehensive piece of legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ADA guarantees equal opportunities regarding many facets of American life, including employment opportunities and the ability to participate in programs and services provided by both state and local governments. 

Due to the technological shift that has taken over American life and society in the modern day, the Americans with Disabilities Act now covers the issues of web accessibility as they relate to both telephone and internet companies. This includes two provisions covering two different types of websites. The first, Title II, applies to state and local government websites. The second, Title III, applies to businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA. Failure to comply with ADA web accessibility guidelines can result in lawsuits and hefty financial penalties. For this reason, it is essential to understand both the importance of ADA guidelines and how you can successfully and fully comply with the guidelines. 

Why Should Websites Be Accessible

Before discussing the specific requirements of the ADA guidelines, it is necessary to understand why websites should be accessible. Technological advances have drastically changed the way American society operates and our overall reliance on the internet. This includes resources such as education, commerce, career, and even recreation.

The internet has become an essential component in nearly every facet of American life. For example, many government services and programs require users to perform activities on the internet. Actions such as paying fees, applying for jobs, filing tax returns, and even applying for permits are now conducted entirely online. For these reasons, it is essential that the online platforms where these actions are performed are sufficiently accessible to all users. This is especially true for users with disabilities because navigating the web can be significantly challenging for those living with disabilities when the website lacks an accessible design. Now that much of our world is online, it is only proper to provide equal access to all disabled users.

Why ADA Compliance Matters

The ADA stands firm on prohibiting discrimination against those who are differently abled. It is a federal law that WCAG guidelines must be followed for digital accessibility as it guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities.

Just as public accommodations matter in the real world, people with disabilities must be given the same ease of access online as anyone else. The ADA prohibits discrimination through the following five titles that cover an array of aspects for disabled people: 

Title I

Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination in employment situations for people with disabilities. This is to ensure that equal opportunities abound during both the application and hiring process and it extends to other employment practices as well.

Title II

This ADA title mandates that there is equal access to public services and transportation for people with disabilities. It provides that state and local government services must make public accommodations for the disabled.

Title III

Under Title III, public accommodations and commercial facilities must be accessible to people with disabilities.

Title IV

Title IV focuses on phone and internet services, requiring them to be accessible to those with hearing and speech disabilities.

Title V

Title V makes a variety of provisions to further protect people with disabilities from retaliation and safeguard their rights under each ADA title. 

ADA compliance standards must be upheld everywhere, even online. The ADA rules that apply to public areas and employers, are part of the third ADA title. Failure to follow ADA standards will result in large fines.

All employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities to allow them to perform their jobs. For example, entrances and bathrooms should be accessible. This also applies to customers with disabilities who need to access their services.

Reasonable modifications must be made so a business can serve people with disabilities. In a restaurant or shopping center, accommodations include wheelchair ramps at the entrance of a building, accessible bathrooms, and accommodations for service animals. The requirements set by the ADA state that all places of business should have ramp access for anyone who uses a wheelchair or other mobility aid, interface mechanisms, and interpretive devices to help those who have visual impairments, and allow and accommodate service animals.

While your online business will not need a wheelchair ramp, it will need to fulfill the WCAG guidelines to be ADA-compliant. Accessibly’s widget can help make that change easier.

Who Must Comply with the ADA?

Many mistakes have been made because there is an assumption that the ADA standards only apply to large corporations. All types of businesses and organizations of all sizes must comply with the ADA standards. State or local governments, employment agencies, public entities, and private employers must also follow the set standards. The only exemptions from complying with ADA standards are any place with fewer than 15 employees. This means movie theaters, restaurants, small and medium businesses, banks, large corporations, retail shops, colleges, labor unions, state and local government offices, and website owners must follow this legislation.

As the owner of a website, it is imperative that you take action immediately to ensure ADA standards and compliance are met. Failure to do so could put your business in jeopardy.

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What Are The Requirements For A Website To Be ADA Accessible?

In order to ensure your website is ADA-compliant in relation to web accessibility, you must first understand the requirements of the ADA. However, this can be challenging. According to ADA.org, “The Department of Justice does not have a regulation setting out detailed standards, but the Department’s longstanding interpretation of the general nondiscrimination and effective communication provisions applies to web accessibility.” Because there are no specific standards published in the ADA, it is necessary to use your best judgment when addressing web accessibility. 

The DOJ suggests using existing technical standards to properly address web accessibility and meet ADA requirements. This includes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards. In fact, in order to follow ADA, WCAG, and Section 508 accessibility standards, the U.S. federal government uses these technical guidelines. Because there are no specific guidelines presented in the ADA, there is a level of flexibility in regard to compliance. However, following the best technical guidelines and creating websites that are as accessible as possible are the best practices for developers. It is also important to remember there could be legal and financial consequences if compliance with the ADA is not met. 

How ADA Compliance Affects Web Designers

ADA compliance has a profound effect on web designers and developers. This is because the Americans with Disabilities Act must be considered during the creation of all websites and all website content. Due to the potential legal implications of failing to comply, developers and designers must prioritize web accessibility for every design. However, being required to address web accessibility for every design should not be viewed in a negative light. 

Creating accessible designs and content provides an overall better online environment for all users. Not only will ADA compliance offer an accessible space for users with disabilities and impairments, but it will also improve satisfaction for every user. It is also important to note that ADA compliance will not necessarily put a restraint on creative freedom. Instead, it challenges developers to create appealing content for every user. For example, many success criteria for compliance involve adjusting backend site elements rather than simple aesthetic changes. ADA compliance challenges web designers to create better content and provide a more accessible environment. 

How ADA Compliance Affects Small Businesses

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to every business open to the public, regardless of size. For this reason, small businesses must legally comply with the ADA. The requirement to be ADA compliant obviously has a few effects on small businesses throughout the U.S. It is important to first consider the financial implications of a potential ADA violation for a small business. A business violating ADA compliance can receive fines of up to $55,000 for the first violation and up to $110,000 for every additional violation. This type of financial consequence can be absolutely crippling for any small business or even lead to a business failing. For this reason, small businesses must be especially careful in regard to ADA compliance. When designing a website or when hiring a developer to create a website for your small business, it is essential to ensure ADA compliance is a priority. Failure to comply properly could effectively end a small business due to the financial consequences of a violation.

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How To Determine If Your Website Is ADA Compliant?

There are several ways to determine if your website is ADA-compliant. One option is to have your website analyzed by a web accessibility evaluation tool. These tools are software programs and services that help determine if online content meets guidelines for accessibility. There are several free options across the web. Also, on W3C’s website, they have provided an extensive list of web accessibility evaluation tools. These are excellent options for website owners who are unfamiliar with the comprehensive accessibility guidelines. 

Another option you can consider is conducting a manual audit of the website yourself. This can be completed by referring to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which include a comprehensive checklist for accessibility. WCAG is a universal standard for accessibility, so passing through this checklist is a great way to test for compliance. However, this may be challenging and time-consuming if you are unfamiliar with the guidelines.

How To Determine If Your Website Is ADA Compliant?

There are several ways to determine if your website is ADA-compliant. One option is to have your website analyzed by a web accessibility evaluation tool. These tools are software programs and services that help determine if online content meets guidelines for accessibility. There are several free options across the web. Also, on W3C’s website, they have provided an extensive list of web accessibility evaluation tools. These are excellent options for website owners who are unfamiliar with the comprehensive accessibility guidelines. 

Another option you can consider is conducting a manual audit of the website yourself. This can be completed by referring to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which include a comprehensive checklist for accessibility. WCAG is a universal standard for accessibility, so passing through this checklist is a great way to test for compliance along with the ADA compliance checklist. However, this may be challenging and time-consuming if you are unfamiliar with the guidelines.

How to Make Your Website Accessible

Since public accommodation expands to websites, it is essential that you have an accessible website. This can take many types of forms, and you must consider the following aspects:

Content

All content should be accessible for people with disabilities including visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive disabilities.

Structure

Anyone using a screen reader or who has a visual impairment should be able to read your content with ease. The right headings matter to ensure ease of understanding.

Readability

Content should be easy to follow for those with cognitive disabilities. It should also be easy to scan. Short sentences, bulleted lists, summary sections, and bolded keywords all make this possible.

Link Text

Link text should be descriptive to inform anyone using screen readers that there is a link and where it will take them.

Design

An accessible design allows your website to be used by everyone. Your videos should have subtitles for those who require auxiliary aids. You can also use transcripts or audio descriptions. Images should have alt text to describe them for those with visual impairments.

Colors should also be considered since, without proper contrast, many users will not be able to read the text. The proper ratio set by guidelines for WCAG set the contrast at 4.5:1. The font you choose also matters, as a sans serif font will be easier to read. Set the size to at least 12 and refrain from using italics to emphasize.

Website Accessibility

Your website must be accessible to comply with the laws, but you also need to consider the four types of disabilities. Keyboard navigation is needed to assist those with visual and motor disabilities. Those people can’t use a mouse and often use screen readers. They should be able to tab through the buttons and menus to navigate your site. Labels may be the most important element to add accessibility online, especially when it comes to forms. They should be easy to use and keyboard accessible with clear instructions.

It may seem complicated to figure out how to update your website to be fully compliant with the ADA. When you use Accessibly’s widget, you won’t have to worry that you’ve missed an important element in following the core principles.

Accessibly’s Widget

Accessibly is the leading widget that helps with ADA and WCAG compliance. It is simple to use for any website or platform, allowing you to make your site readable for all. You’ll ensure inclusivity for everyone with enlarged content, adjustable colors, text to voice, and other smart features.

Our widget can be installed quickly, meaning you can be compliant and avoid incurring fines or lawsuits. Start your free trial today to see how easy it is to meet all the ADA requirements and include a larger market segment on your website!

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What our clients say

Great experience with this app. User-friendly UI for both mobile and desktop and helps our website achieve Accessibility requirements. The support team is amazing with their hands-on assistance for any issues that come up.

BulbAmerica

November 22, 2022

This app is worth every penny. Not only does it provide the functionality that every website needs, but their customer service is beyond amazing. I submitted a question regarding the app and received the most detailed responses explaining to me what the app does, what it doesn't, and ways to maximize it. Sharing what I learned: Based on the published Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), this Accessibly app can help your website achieve compatibility. Also learned that you should scan your website using this ADA compliance tool—https://wave.webaim.org and fix the errors. Such a great app and the most helpful customer service. Highly recommend!

Dermasuri

September 1, 2022

Für Ethical Made war es wichtig, dass alle Menschen unsere digitalen Angebote nutzen können, unabhängig von ihren körperlichen und geistigen Fähigkeiten. Das ADA Compliance Plugin von On the Map erfüllt alle unsere Anforderungen an die Barrierefreiheit im E-Commerce, so das auch Menschen mit Behinderung unsere Website uneingeschränkt nutzen können.

Ethical Made

April 23, 2022

It's a great APP that works perfectly and customer service team is exceptional. Also installing the APP with very easy. Thanks!

Ecuador

January 25, 2022

We do not normally leave reviews for apps unless something exceptional has stood out to us. The level of customer support for this app was above and beyond when it came to helping us implement the app. Highly recommend!

Pristine Sprays

November 17, 2021

Does exactly what I need for a fair price! Straight forward and I didn't feel ripped off like some of the other apps. This offers great accessibility with customizable colors and positions. The installation was easy and walked me through setting up my own accessibility statement page. Thanks for making this a no-brainer for us! You earned the 5-stars!

Kiln Frog

November 3, 2021

We know of another small company that just got sued for something like $30K for not having their website be ADA compliant, so we are glad this exists! The $5 version works great for us - had a small hiccup with the display/our search bar when first installed but Kaspars from their support team resolved it within a couple of days and was super communicative and helpful. Thanks for a great easy to use product.

Stonehouse Olive Oil

September 7, 2021

Developer is quick to respond with changes/upgrades (about 2 days). I requested some changes with ARIA based on issues with accessibility checkers (e.g. Lighthouse on Chrome Developer Tools). Changes made, badda boom. Two thumbs up.

Yolk | free range design

August 27, 2021

This app has helped me make my site more accessible to customers with disabilities. It was super easy to use and customize, definitely worth the premium subscription.

GleamnGlim

March 29, 2021

As a visually impaired creator, I wanted to accommodate all my customers/visitors when accessing my shop. This app works perfectly for that, gives the visitor control of what they experience, and adds even more accessibility than most other similar apps. I highly recommend it!

Deven Rue

October 24, 2020

Great support and app functionality for stores that need a non-intrusive solution to disability accessibility.

Detail Planet

March 27, 2020

Exactly what I was looking for to assist in ensuring accessibility compliance. They've also been very helpful in assisting me customize things so it meets our site needs. Highly recommended.

FORYOURLEGS.COM

February 21, 2020

Super helpful team! Very responsive and can implement quickly and as needed. Thank you, Kaspars, for all of your help!

Rumpl

February 20, 2020

Nice app that provides easy panel access for impaired users. Support was extremely responsive to a request for minor customization - We are excited to have this in place!

Brush Hero

February 10, 2020

The tool was simple to install and immediately provided a remedy to some of our accessibility issues as we worked to update our site. Kaspars was responsive and very helpful assisting with applying some custom display requests. Overall a wonderful app!

Snow Peak

January 15, 2020

Perfect app! We love what it does to help people with disabilities and works perfectly. Thank you to the developers!

Garçon Apparel

November 5, 2019

Everyone should use this app - it’s super simple, easiest way to help your store with WCAG 2.1, ADA, Section 508 and EN 301549 compliance

The Bang Shack

September 13, 2019