Most people think of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a law that requires wheelchair ramps and handicapped parking spaces. But what many people don’t know is that the ADA also requires all public websites to be fully accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. This means that your website must be designed so that it can be used by everyone, including people who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, or have limited mobility. Tools like accessiBe can help with this, and other options exist also.
If your website isn’t ADA compliant, you could face legal penalties and lawsuits from disgruntled customers. Here are six reasons why you should make sure your website is ADA compliant:
1. The ADA is a federal law, so you can be sued for noncompliance.
Many businesses have found out the hard way that the ADA is a federal law, and the public can sue them for noncompliance. For example, in 2017, Domino’s Pizza was sued for $1 million because its website wasn’t accessible to people with disabilities. The case is still pending, but it highlights the risk businesses face if they don’t make their websites accessible.
2. You could lose customers if your website isn’t accessible.
If your website isn’t accessible, you could be losing out on potential customers. People with disabilities are estimated to have a spending power of $200 billion, and if your website isn’t accessible, you’re missing out on that business.
3. You could be sued even if you didn’t know your website wasn’t accessible.
In Domino’s case, the company argued that it didn’t know its website wasn’t accessible to people with disabilities. But the court disagreed and said that ignorance is not a defense against compliance with the ADA. Even if you didn’t know your website wasn’t accessible, you could still be sued.
4. The DOJ is stepping up enforcement of the ADA.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has made it clear that it intends to step up enforcement of the ADA, and websites are a major target. In 2017, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against H&R Block for its inaccessible website. This is the first time that the DOJ has sued a company for its website’s lack of accessibility, and it’s likely to be just the beginning.
5. Websites are covered by the ADA.
Many people mistakenly believe that the ADA covers only physical places. But that’s not the case – the ADA also applies to websites. The law is clear that websites must be accessible to people with disabilities, and there have been several court cases that have upheld this principle.
6. You could be required to make your website accessible retroactively.
In the H&R Block case, the DOJ has asked the court to require the company to make its website accessible to new visitors and people who have already been affected by its inaccessibility. So if you’re sued for your website’s lack of accessibility, you could be required to make your website accessible retroactively.
Final Word on ADA Compliance for Your Website
The bottom line is that the ADA is a law that must be taken seriously, and if your website isn’t compliant, you could face legal penalties. Making your website accessible doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive – there are many tools and resources available to help you. But it’s important to take action now before you find yourself on the wrong side of the law.