There’s been a lot of chatter recently about websites not meeting ADA compliance rules – but what does it all mean? Should you be worried about being on the receiving end of an accessibility lawsuit?
What is ADA Compliance?
“ADA” stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s a civil right law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
On the web, ADA compliance works to level the playing field for those with disabilities. Not all of us surf the web with the same ease. The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) also work towards making web content accessible for people with disabilities.
As with everything, technology and the guidelines that standardize it are continually evolving and growing. What was compliant yesterday may not be today.
How Compliant Do I Need To Be?
Obviously, you should do what you can to make your site as accessible as possible but ADA compliance has different requirement levels. “How compliant do I need to be?” is probably the most important question you can ask when determining your website’s ADA compliance.
According to current guidelines, any business considered a “public accommodation” should have an ADA compliant web presence. Title III of the ADA defines “public accommodations” to include inns, along with a variety of other private businesses. That being said, current ADA requirements only apply to companies in the private sector who employ 15 or more persons.
In other words, if your company is just you, Mabel, and the cat, you can most definitely stand down.
Is My Site ADA Compliant And What To Do If It’s Not
For those who are affected by these requirements, the WCAG 2.0 has more than 60 different guidelines for achieving AA or AAA level compliance on your website. Luckily, your website probably already meets most of them.
While there are online tools that can test your site’s ADA compliance, we don’t recommend this route unless you’re an experienced user. You could end up wasting a lot of time (and potentially money) chasing down false-positives and irrelevant data.
Staying ADA compliant may also cost you a little money – but it’s much better than the alternative!
Being Compliant, Staying Compliant
No matter how new your site, no matter how competent your web designer, no matter how fast you run to stay ahead the trends, there’s always going to be something you’re not doing, or doing wrong, or need to update, upgrade, or otherwise reconfigure on your site in order for it to be “compliant” and “up to date.”
The web doesn’t just move, it moves FAST.
It’s an ever-evolving conglomeration of new technologies, old problems, and hungry companies running headlong into each other in a desperate attempt to stay functional, safe, relevant, and profitable. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of unscrupulous folks out there who try capitalize on this situation with scare tactics and partial information.
Don’t fall for the fear. Whenever you’re in doubt, ask a professional you can trust, and always, always, ALWAYS look before you leap.