Compliance Corner - ADA Accessibility - Does Your Website Pass the Requirements?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses that operate 20 or more weeks per year with at least 15 full-time employees or businesses that fall under the category of “public accommodation” to make accommodations for people with disabilities. One of these accommodations includes having website content that is accessible to the blind, deaf, and people who navigate by voice, screen readers, or other assistive technology.

If the ADA covers your business, everyone must be able to enjoy the full and equal use of your website. This includes successfully navigating your site and engaging with different elements. Note that there are no automatic or instant solutions, such as toolbars, widgets, or plugins for website accessibility. You need a professional to make your site compliant.

Because the ADA is a strict liability law, there are no defenses for violations. This means that not knowing about the regulations, saying that a web developer is working on the issue, or having other reasons for noncompliance is invalid. Failure to comply with ADA requirements can result in lawsuits, financial liabilities, and damage to your company’s brand reputation.

United States courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reference the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA success criteria as the standard to gauge whether your website is accessible. The criteria include 38 requirements, individually referred to as the success criterion.

The WCAG outlines three standard conformance levels, from weakest to strongest: A, AA, and AAA. The level of conformance you choose can affect your site’s current design, feel, and functionality. For instance, Level A conformity has minimal effect and impact. Although it allows screen readers to more effectively scan a site, it won’t make your site compliant with the standards the DOJ or attorneys want to see. Level AA is what you want to aim for. It satisfies Level A criteria and more while allowing for more flexible design choices. Level AAA includes all conformance factors at the highest level but is the most restrictive on elements that contribute to site design and functionality.

Complying with ADA requirements makes your website easy to navigate for millions of disabled people. It also shows your concern for accommodating needs and makes you a more attractive company. Make sure your site follows ADA standards.