“In 2019, 2,256 lawsuits were filed against websites that failed to meet ADA standards.”
We are professionals in website accessibility. We cross every T and dot every I to ensure every website is ADA compliant. To verify that your domain follows WCAG guidelines, contact us today and our team will set you up for success.
We understand the ADA compliant website standards are challenging to navigate, and most web designers are just now beginning to focus on creating more accessible web content. The worst case scenario is a disabled user filing a lawsuit against your company for publication accommodations being unmet. By following the guidelines you can ensure all of your visitors have full access to your site. When implementing compliance standards that follow the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, executing proper web accessibility testing, and understanding the three major standards your website can be deemed ADA compliant and lawsuit free.
What are the three major standards of compliance?
The rising concern for most site owners is their website’s accessibility. And though the concern is on the rise, the regulations and laws have been in place for decades. With accessibility growing in concern, the compliance guidelines are following suit in terms of enforcement. To best accommodate the visitors for your domain you need to understand the three major types of compliance:
Each compliance standard offers digital accessibility; however, they are imposed differently.
What is ADA compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law. Businesses are not legally allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities. This law applies multiple establishments:
- Governments (state and local)
Both private and public sector companies fall under these laws. Pre-existing and new websites should make it their mission to accommodate all different types of website users. An ADA lawsuit can be filed against your business for more than just your website, though. This law also protects people with disabilities in areas such as entrances, exits, and against hiring discrimination.
What happens if your website fails to maintain ADA compliance?
The failure of the ability to follow through on accessibility guidelines can lead to the following:
- $55,000-$75,000 fine on the first non-compliant violation
- $150,000 fines for repeated violations
If you are receiving federal funding for your business, it is also possible for that federal funding to be revoked for failure to comply and maintain ADA standards. In addition to the federal governments fining you, civil lawsuits can be filed against you by the affected parties. A fine and/or a lawsuit can impact your business financially, and working with our team can deter any possible legal consequences that could have otherwise been avoided. Even if you did not know the issue existed, your business can still be held accountable pending your website is deemed inaccessible.
What is WCAG compliance?
Domain owners rely on ISO standards so designers and developers have content guidelines to follow. Businesses, nonprofits, and governments can all follow these recommendations as they are not imposed by anyone in specific. A web design firm should follow the WCAG guidelines to properly create a site that offers equal access while also meeting the web accessibility requirements. There are three levels of compliance available:
- Level A – Some users can use the site with their disability
- Level AA – Almost all users can access it
- Level AAA – Every user can view and use the site
For a website to be considered ADA compliant, WCAG standards are important to understand and implement. WCAG standards have transitioned from 1.0 to 2.0, to now 2.1. If a pre-existing site followed the original 1.0 guideline, the site will want to update their accessibility to meet the 2.1 guidelines.
The differences between the versions can be found on W3.org. It is typical that as time passes and updates are performed, small changes are needed to maintain guidelines and keep your website ADA compliant.
Our team aims to provide Level AA or higher for every collaboration. When we are asked to build or update a website, we follow the newest WCAG guidelines to ensure your site is not an automatic liability when launching.
What happens if your website fails to maintain WCAG guidelines?
In short, nothing. The WCAG guidelines are created for web developers to create a website that is ADA compliant, but the WCAG guidelines in particular are not law.
What is 508 compliance?
If you are a federal agency, you are mandated to follow federal laws. The 508 compliance is applied to both federal departments and agencies. This is designed to allow the government to create websites that will accommodate users with disabilities. Businesses do not need to follow these guidelines, as they are specific to federal agencies.
What happens if your website fails to maintain 508 compliance?
Because this only affects federal departments and agencies, the only way non-compliance is handled is via civil lawsuits and/or formal complaints. The federal government must provide:
- Injunctive relief
- Possible monetary damages
- Winning attorney fees
The revised 508 standards require the minimum of Level AA or higher access as defined by WCAG.
How to develop an accessible website
In the United States alone, 61 million adults are impacted by a disability. While some visitors may use/need assistive technology like a screen reader, other visitors’ disabilities may not entirely impact their ability to navigate your user interface, or ability to read the product descriptions you’ve provided.
A popular practice used by many, such as alternative text, or alt text, when adding an image, can actually assist in making content more readable for disabled users. Whether you have a pre-existing website or you are building a new one, it is important to follow ADA regulations and other standards from the jump. There are a multitude of ways to ensure you are providing equal access that falls in line with the Disabilities Act.
- In-House – The in-house team needs to ensure that 508 or ADA compliance is being followed. The issue is typically a lack of knowledge. A team that is well-versed in ADA regulations and/or the guidelines under 508 standards can prevent future liability.
- Agency – In an effort to save you both time and money, and maybe some headache, you can outsource the work to an agency that is in full understanding of the different types of accessibility requirements. These agencies know how to build commercial websites that follow WCAG guidelines and maintain ADA compliance.
- Consultants – An individual consultant can provide guidance to an existing team on regulations and website accessibility guidelines as they update or develop a site that will be able to offer equal access to all users.
A website’s compliance can be different, based on whether or not you have to follow ADA website compliance or 508 requirements. Both standards offer similar options in terms of screen reader usage, alt text requirements, and additional standards. If you have a larger website that has not yet been updated to limit accessibility issues, you may have a large undertaking ahead of you. In which our agency may be most appropriate to avoid error and possible liability.
Based on your site’s content management system, you may be able to use a plugin that can immediately make the necessary changes to improve your accessibility standards. WordPress ADA compliance, for example, is one of the easier options because you can purchase a theme designed with standards and use plugins:
- WP ADA Compliance Check Basic
- WP Accessibility
- WP Accessibility Helper
When we collaborate with clients who want to update their website design and avoid any ADA compliance related lawsuits, we take an inventory of all pages and perform an accessibility test for each individual page. After obtaining a solid foundation for the changes that need to be made, we create a list of action items to be implemented efficiently that assist website owners in meeting ADA website compliance.
ADA requirement guidelines and checklist
While there are many requirements to follow, the guidelines can be easily accessed online. Standards can be found on:
- WCAG 2.0 Guidelines
- 508 Standards
- ADA Standards
The following checklist provides recommendations that can go a long way in making your website more accessible. Keeping in mind that some items are the most common when maintaining Level AA or Level AAA standards:
- Non-text content should have some text components to make these elements more identifiable through alt text.
- Add transcripts for audio or video
- Add captions to videos
- Validate HTML
- Add labels to forms
- Break text apart with headers and subheaders
- Remove color references in content
- Don’t add auto-playing audio
- Create user interfaces that allow arrow or tab control
- Remove timed keystroke functions
- Add delay or pause options to animated text or images
- Remove flashing content
- Add controls for necessary flashing items to pause it
- Provide page language information in the site’s HTML coding
- Add HTML sitemaps
- Allow for resizing text up to 200%
- Use contrasting backgrounds and text
- Add captions to live videos
- Label site elements
- Create a consistent navigation
- Add borders to focused elements
- Provide focus visibility
- Identify input errors easily
- Enable error correction for forms
- Create confirmations for form submissions
It is easier to maintain and follow these guidelines for a smaller site, but a larger site can be more time-consuming to implement all updates. Adding accessibility requirements to future pages should be in place through protocols and statements.
Web content is the most consumed globally. Website owners need to dial in on digital accessibility to avoid potential 508 and/or ADA lawsuits. Working with a professional agency that understands the standards and can bring your website up to speed is not only recommended, but mandatory.