The Americans With Disabilities Act is mainly about accessibility for all Americans, regardless of their physical capabilities. This means so much more than just wheelchair ramps for public businesses or automatic doors. It means that businesses with public websites should have options that adhere to the ADA.
1Digital Agency provides ADA compliance for eCommerce websites. As experts in eCommerce, we can ensure that your website is up to date on WCAG 2.0 guidelines to be compliant with the ADA and protected from legal risk.
What are the ADA compliance guidelines? Here is a quick guide:
First, it’s important to know what a disability is. The ADA’s definition of a person with a disability is as follows: “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.” Physical impairments include visual, hearing, muscular, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and more. Mental impairments include dyslexia, cognitive issues and more.
With disabilities now defined, what is accessibility? Simply put, accessibility is the providing of products and services for everyone. Having an ADA compliant website not only helps avoid fines or lawsuits that could be filed against a business, but also is good for increasing brand value.
What makes a site ADA compliant? There are four simple things:
Your eCommerce site should be perceivable – All elements of the website should be appreciated by all visitors.
Your eCommerce site should be operable – All elements of the site should be able to be accessed and used by all visitors.
Your eCommerce site should be understandable – All elements of the website should be clear and easy to understand. Develop your website so that it is easy for users to avoid mistakes and correct them.
Your eCommerce site should be robust – The website needs to be robust in that it is compatible with all technologies, including the most current assistive technologies.
Now that you know the basics, here are more detailed guidelines for ADA compliance on your eCommerce website and the most common mistakes:
- Have unique IDs and names for all elements on the website.
- View your eCommerce site from the perspective of a disabled person.
- Use alternative text. Many websites have elements such as images, text boxes and checkboxes that do not contain any alternative text. In this situation, if an image was placed on a webpage and did not have any alternative text, a screen reader would read it as “image” and not describe the image. People who are visually impaired rely on descriptions.
- Have a “skip to main content” option so that it can be reached without much navigation.
- Ensure that the entire website is accessible with the use of a keyboard.
- Captions are required for all multimedia files.
- Error messages in elements such as form submissions should be more specific and detailed than simply “form submission is wrong.”
- Tables should include appropriate column and row headings and be tagged properly.
- If there is an element that redirects to another source, like a PDF, there should be a link for a PDF installer software.
- Any required fields on a form should be labeled with “Required” and not with symbols.
- Fonts used on the website need to be available on all operating systems (MAC, Windows, etc.)
- Put together an accessibility guide that can be a resource for people with disabilities.
- Include an email address and phone number for visitors to contact you for requests about accessibility information.
These guidelines are new to the ADA, so they should be implemented on your eCommerce website properly to avoid potential legal issues. That’s why 1DigitalⓇ
Why ADA Compliance is Important?
In recent years, more and more lawsuits are popping up as the result of individual lawsuits and class actions filed by plaintiffs under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In some cases, these are being files under state and local government laws as well.
In just two years, the number of federal website accessibility cases has skyrocketed from 815 in 2017 to 2,285 in 2018 and is on pace to surpass 3,200 in 2019. Why is this? More is happening online. When the ADA was enacted in 1990, it was done to prevent discrimination against those with disabilities in public locations. The ADA was designed to specify how businesses and property owners alike should make locations accessible to everyone. Of course, this was long before people began using the internet to complete business transactions.
As the use of the internet grew, especially for business, lawsuits have since emerged that argue that websites are also places of public accommodation under the ADA. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has stated that the ADA does apply to the websites of places of public accommodation. Add in that business websites failing to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and it opened the door for more claims to reach the courts.
It makes it all the more important now to make sure your website has taken all of the steps necessary to comply with the ADA.
Becoming ADA compliant is an urgent matter if you want to avoid potential lawsuits. If you see this as an opportunity to take action and quickly, a great way to get ADA compliant quickly is to utilize AccessiBe, a partner of 1DigitalⓇ
If you need any assistance in installing or choosing a plan for your business, please call the experts at 1DigitalⓇ!
- Dan Kogan
- August 22, 2018