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5 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Website ADA Compliance

5 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Website ADA Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as the ADA, gives everyone, no matter if they have disabilities or not, access to public spaces. It can be quite complicated and covers various business sectors.

It first came into practice in 1990 and initially only applied to companies with 15 or more employees. However, in January 2018, new regulations came in that require all websites now to comply with the ADA.

Under the ADA, all websites must now be as friendly to the disabled as real-world applications. They must be accessible to everyone on desktop PCs and laptops, as well as mobile devices. 

Failing to comply with the ADA can result in a poor experience for anyone with physical limitations, as well as penalties for the website owners.

Right now, any business that can be considered a “public accommodation” must have an ADA-compliant website. This includes all B2C businesses, online retailers, or other service providers the general public uses on a regular basis.

It’s also important to consider that not all web users use the same browser. While Google Chrome and Firefox are used readily by the majority of people, some rely on audio scanners and text readers to enjoy their online experience. This means that developers must remember to keep these people in mind as they create a website so that anyone can access all the information on a given page at any time.

If you don’t know if your website is ADA compliant, or if you aren’t sure if you should be taking the leap, here are five things you didn’t know about website ADA compliance that can influence your decision.

1. ADA Compliance Increases Your Target Audience

Websites that are not ADA compliant stand to miss out on a large number of potential customers. In the US, nearly 20% of the entire population has at least one form of disability. This equates to around 50 million people. Not many businesses, if any at all, can afford to simply ignore this number.

Many of these users may wish to use your product or service, but they can’t because they cannot navigate your site as easily as they’d like.

For example, users with a visual or hearing impairment find it difficult to surf a non-ADA compliant site. They require the use of alternative text (alt text), so screen reading tools can define images or videos. Similarly, your website must be accessible without having to use a mouse. This ensures that anyone with physical limitations can navigate through your content freely without running into trouble.

2. ADA Compliance Improves SEO 

SEO is so important for increasing web traffic in the digital world. Unless people can find you in the search results, there’s no way you can beat your competitors.

In the case of ADA compliance, search engines like Google crawl through web pages with a higher human intent than ever before. So, going back to the screen reader example, these devices crawl through websites in a similar way to search engines.

Your SEO will improve if your website can engage with these users. This makes filling out the alt text on images, writing detailed and informative meta descriptions, and video transcripts even more important.

The better the engagement, the more your website tells Google that its content is accessible to all users.

3. ADA Compliance Ensures You Avoid Penalties

This is arguably one of the most important reasons to ensure your website is ADA compliant. Since most businesses now operate online to an extent, they must be accessible to everyone.

Websites must be graded at least to an A-standard level, with AAA-grading being the highest available. Businesses that do not meet this grading face potential penalties.

Many well-known brands have been hit with lawsuits in the last few years. As shown by Digital Authority Partners, businesses like Nike and Apple have all been sued for not having their content accessible to the visually or audio impaired user base. Even Beyonce has been sued!

Now, it’s important to know that any content you have published on your website before January 18, 2018, does not have to comply with these rules. However, if it has been altered in any way after this date, then it must be ADA compliant.

All content published after January 18, 2018, must be ADA compliant. Failing to do so can land you some hefty fines, so to avoid paying out on large legal bills, updating your website is advised.

4. ADA Compliance Shows Trustworthiness

ADA compliant websites benefit all users, no matter if they have a disability or not. The best websites are easy to navigate so you can find what you’re looking for without any trouble. 

Not only does ADA compliance enable everyone to easily access your content, but it also promotes trust to customers. In turn, this will convert more visitors into sales. You have everything to gain with ADA compliance and nothing to lose.

5. ADA Compliance Increases The Value Of Your Brand

This final benefit of ADA compliance is very attractive to those that may still be on the fence. ADA compliance gives your business access to a far larger market. Since not all websites are ADA compliant, the disabled population can feel limited by the number of options available to them.

When they find your website and see you have catered to their needs, they will feel important and become loyal to your brand. In some cases, they may have been to several other websites before yours, only to be disappointed every time in that they can’t actually use it. But that disappointment came to an end when they found you.

From here, they are likely to share their experience with others, such as friends and family. Word of mouth and social media shares are such powerful tools in your arsenal, helping to spread the word about your brand and reaching a wider audience. If you are doing something great that your competitors are not, people will talk, and that’s only a positive for the value of your brand.

ADA compliance is excellent for growing your online presence and earning positive press.

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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.