“Can you help to make sure our website is ADA compliant?”
We get this question a lot, and the answer is yes!
Like most regulatory standards, there are varying degrees of digital compliance. This month we’re discussing the basics of website ADA compliance and how to determine the best solution for your company’s online presence.
What is Website ADA Compliance?
ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design, which is a federal law that requires many websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. This law applies to:
- State and local government agencies
- Private employers with 15 or more employees
- Businesses that operate for the benefit of the public
Many of our clients who operate a business that’s open to the public are therefore required to have a website that’s ADA compliant.
If the website is not ADA compliant, business owners run the risk of being sued by someone with a disability who can’t access the website. These lawsuits have continued to grow steadily year over year with a 53% increase in cases from 2018 to 2020 (3550 total cases in 2020 across the U.S.). The cost of an ADA compliance lawsuit can range from $25,000+ including legal fees, damages, and the remediation meets compliance.
The major issue here is that many business owners aren’t familiar enough with their website to know whether or not it’s ADA compliant. They also don’t know who to ask to check whether their website is ADA compliant. A quick google search for “is my website ADA compliant” returns countless results of ads, scans, and solutions that over-promise and under-deliver. The rest of this article will be dedicated to helping business owners understand the different levels of website ADA compliance, and how to choose the right one for your business.
Levels of Website ADA Compliance:
Self-Compliance includes working with a web developer to make sure your website is ADA compliant. This involves a manual audit of every page on your website to evaluate for accessibility, using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is the basis for ADA compliance.
The WCAG Guidelines can be distilled into four different principles, collectively known as POUR. These principles evaluate your website to make sure it meets these requirements for people with disabilities:
It’s important to note that with Self Compliance you’re at the mercy of the web developer making these changes. ADA compliance includes evaluating small details on every page of your website, and if all these details aren’t accounted for then the website may not be compliant.
Certified Compliance involves hiring an accessibility agency to work with a web developer to make sure your website is ADA compliant. These agencies will typically provide an ADA-compliant certification following the completion of the work. This certification is an important document that can help defend your business in the event of an ADA compliance lawsuit.
The cost to work with an accessibility agency can range from $5000+ depending on the number of pages and complexity of your website. This estimate does not include the separate cost of a web developer to make the changes advised by the accessibility agency.
There are also options to endorse your Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) or General Liability Policy to provide coverage for the business in the event of an ADA compliance lawsuit. This coverage may provide financial reimbursement for the Defense Cost and Damages, but likely won’t cover the remediation needed to bring your website up to compliance standards.
Hiring Hudson Creative to Help with Website ADA Compliance
While Hudson Creative does not offer Certified Compliance (or sell insurance) we’re in a unique position to advise clients on the right solution for their website.
No matter what level of ADA compliance you choose, you’ll still need to hire a website developer to make the necessary changes to your website (even with Certified Compliance your own web developer will be the one to make the changes). Hudson Creative has over 10 years of experience making these types of website changes, and a project workflow that’s built for ADA compliance. We also have vetted partners who offer Certified Compliance and insurance coverage and would be happy to make these introductions for you.
Ironically, many of the same characteristics that make a website ADA compliant are similar to those that make your website SEO-friendly and improve page load speed. The gold standard for valid website markup is the W3C Markup Validation Service. This scan will not tell you whether your website is ADA compliant or SEO-friendly, but it will tell you whether or not your website contains valid HTML, which is an important piece of the puzzle for both.
It’s almost as if the universe is rewarding businesses for being more accessible to people with disabilities by increasing the visibility of ADA-compliant websites in search engines!
Thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.