Your Website is Grounds for a Lawsuit—No, Seriously.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities…[It] guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to enjoy employment opportunities, purchase goods and services, and participate in state and local government programs.”
We know what you’re thinking: wait, Jennasis—you’re digital marketing specialists, not advocates or activists. What does the ADA have to do with my marketing?
Good question. Hang tight.
The ADA is broken up into several sections—called titles—that delineate the mandates placed upon different kinds of organizations to not only avoid discrimination, but make it illegal. Under Title I of the ADA, all businesses with 15 or more employees are required to comply with specific standards for equal opportunity employment, accessibility, training, promotions, and compensation.
Additionally, under Title III of the ADA, businesses open to the public—including restaurants, hotels, private schools, private transportation services, doctor’s offices, and more—are required to “provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to access the goods or services that they offer.”
Under both Title I and Title III, this includes your website. Every day, people look for information online, from your hours of operation to an email address. If that information is not easily accessible for all, including those with disabilities, you could find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit.
Imagine this: you’re someone with low vision. It’s the heat of the summer, and your AC breaks. This hasn’t happened to you before, so you don’t know who to call. Sticky and sweating, you open your laptop and start searching for HVAC repair companies in your area. You come across a promising one, with great reviews on Google, but as soon as you click on their website, it’s over.
All of their information is in some pastel color on a white background. There isn’t enough contrast for you to make out how to contact them, let alone what their name is. Squinting at the screen is a hopeless endeavor, and highlighting the words is pointless. They haven’t made their website accessible to you, so you’re stuck in the heat, going from website to website, just trying to find someone to call.
Frustrating, to say the least.
In 2022, a total of 3,255 lawsuits were brought against thousands of companies—large and small—because their websites failed to comply with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is a 12% jump from 2021, when 2,895 lawsuits were filed in federal courts.
This number has been steadily increasing since 2017, even though the ADA has no clear-cut regulations for website compliance. And, since ADA demand letters—or official correspondence from the ADA about your website’s accessibility—don’t always lead to a court of law, the likelihood that the number of websites that are inaccessible is probably far greater than the numbers above.
A lawsuit—from the ADA or anyone else—can be a costly roadblock to success. Besides being forced to comply with website accessibility updates, businesses would also be required to pay attorney’s fees, which are a pretty penny. Not to mention that an inaccessible website means losing out on new customers.
So, how do you make sure your website is available for all to use, freely and easily?
Although the answer depends somewhat on your business, current website, and several other factors, you can make your website more inclusive by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Use text transcripts and closed captions for video and audio content.
Focus on designing a uniform, intuitive, and organized layout for your website.
Use high-contrast, bold lettering and highlighting.
Implement alt tags for images, videos, audio files, and more.
Need some help to get it done? Jennasis can help you out. We’re always thrilled to help make the web a better place for everyone! If you’re interested in making your website as accessible as possible (and boost your SEO while you’re at it)---click here!