Look, we know you’re not a hater, but your non-WCAG compliant website may be making people feel otherwise. And, with legal buzz phrases like full and equal use and effective communication popping up everywhere, there’s good reason to be concerned.

One in four Americans has a disability. That’s 61 million people who could possibly engage with your website. From an attorney’s perspective, that’s looks like 61 million people who could potentially make a case should they find your website not up to ADA standards. And they will, to the tune of anywhere from five–50k and up in settlements. The bottom line: it’s time to prioritize ADA compliance.

For a website to be fully accessible to disabled people, content must be coded in such a way that screen-reading software can convert text into an audio translation. Video must include descriptions for the deaf, and all interactive functions must be operable through keyboard commands for people who are unable to use a mouse.
The silver lining? Along with good design, use of accessibility standards can also benefit SEO.
More obvious visual controls, image alt tags, link titles, and enforced content hierarchy make your site clearer to navigate and provide users an overall easier reading, and browsing experience. Aria, and schema markup create more relevant search results, allowing for closer matching of user intent in searches. Users will more likely be able to find relevant content based on how your site and pages are structured (and their relevance to the search results) and less likely to find themselves lost within your site –  all sure to bring your site high marks from a UX perspective. By doing the right thing for the disabled among us, we can all benefit.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule: high design (art) sites, cutting edge design techniques, and animations may not be accessible yet. Savvy organizations understand that this lack of accessibility means a loss of a customer base, and are willing to compromise one for the other.

So you got the letter.

Remember, it’s not you against them. It’s you FOR them.

We live in a world of wheelchair-accessible doorways and bathrooms, closed-captioning, braille libraries and handicapped parking for good reason. Extending accessibility to the web just makes sense. Think of it as an opportunity to open your business up to a broader audience. Oh, and lest we forget – it’s the law.

Unfortunately, if you’ve received a letter, you’ll need to talk to a lawyer – remember you’ll need money for the plaintiff too. (https://www.ada.gov/reachingout/lesson91.htm).

Use the following tools to self-access your site, then seek professional advice and respond quickly:

Look at your site using a screen reader:

Each tool works a bit differently, but will lead you to roughly the same outcomes and uncover issues within your site (note: ALL issues found should be addressed).

It’s important to understand what level of compliance you are required to adhere to.

In general, private businesses should stick to WCAG 2.0 AA. Government organizations and public institutions should look to Section 508 and WCAG 2.1. So, talk to your web developer, or find one who knows and understands these standards, and can access your website correctly.

Next, hire a developer and correct your content.

In a CMS like Wordpress or Shopify this means going to every image and link, in every page, making sure you have accurate alt and title tags. Employ schema wherever possible, and correct your colors. Ensure your brand designer knows about contrast ratios for the colorblind. It might be time to create a new web style guide with a color palette that has a proper 4.5:1 contrast ratio for buttons and button text. Green on green may look good to you, however accessible sites consider their colorblind customers as well. Sometimes, a compromise is necessary. A good designer can make this look like an intentional improvement.

ADA Compliance: bad for sharks, good for humans

How do you keep the sharks at bay?

Get organized.

Document all compliance efforts and save them someplace safe like google docs or dropbox. Be sure to include testing dates and times, and save all initial report data. Record any repairs made, adding time-stamps as well as final test results to confirm improvements. With the speed of change these days, we advise repeating the above every month or quarter.

Then, seriously consider keeping a web developer on retainer.

You wouldn’t skip routine bookkeeping, taking inventory, or building maintenance on your brick-and-mortar business, so why risk today’s visible business communication tool? A solid web developer can manage regular compliance testing for a nominal fee, and provide routine reporting to ensure that your website is not on the list of the attorney who’s looking for the next business to send a letter to.

Last but not least, manage your content properly on a regular, ongoing basis.

If you have an in-house team, they need to understand how to oversee content with accessibility in mind. Any agency, developer or web consultant worth their salt will be happy to coach your team up on this knowledge.

Our final word: there is no loophole. If your site is not WCAG compliant, it’s a potential business liability.

Contact us for a consultation and let us help you keep the sharks at bay...