As office equipment dealers, you know all about compliance when it comes to helping your vertical-market customers. From HIPAA compliance for healthcare providers to Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act compliance in finance, you’re well versed in exposing the benefits of your hardware and solutions to help industries boost and maintain compliance. But are you aware that there are accessibility guidelines set for your dealership’s website?
ADA Compliant Websites: What’s The Law?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law in 1990, initially was enacted to insure brick and mortar stores were accessible to those with disabilities. Consider how parking lots have added parking, storefronts now have ramps, and public restrooms accommodate wheelchairs. As consumers have become more reliant on technology and the internet to purchase goods, this law has recently extended to websites as well. As of the posting of this article, none of the written titles that encompass the original act specifically mention websites. The only definitive law that explicitly requires website accessibility is applied solely to government-based sites, section 508.
ADA Compliant Websites: What’s The Risk?
Despite a definitive law requiring websites to follow ADA guidelines, lawsuits whereby businesses are being sued for inaccessible websites abound. Moreover, the number of suits filed annually has increased year-over-year, with a 181% surge in 2018 versus the previous year. Only this year’s pandemic bucked the momentum and flattened the upward trend. In fact, law firms across the country are basing their practices around filing lawsuits against companies with inaccessible sites. Certain industries are at a greater risk of being sued, such as hotels and travel, healthcare, and education. However, e-Commerce-based websites are increasingly targeted for lawsuits.
ADA Compliant Websites: What Does It Mean for Websites to Be Accessible?
The question still remains, what must you do to ensure your website is ADA compliant? You must consider those with disabilities, such as those with vision or hearing impairment, and how they would be able to use and read your website. The following features comprise a few of the main components of accessibility.
- Graphics: The graphics used should not flash, as they could induce seizures for users. Images and videos should always have captions and descriptions for the visually impaired using website reading software to not miss out on any part of your message.
- Fonts & Alt Text: Along the same vein, alt-text should be included for all images as part of the code of your website. Fonts used throughout your site should be easy to read, sizeable, and have enough contrast compared to the background color or image used behind the text.
- Navigation: The site should be easy to navigate through by a wide audience, with logical, clear paths to get from one page to the next, go back, and close pages or pop-ups. Additionally, ensuring users can work their way through your site using a keyboard alone and to pause or slow down the speed of your website (like slideshows) are other keys to navigation-based accessibility.
- Technical Aspects: A critical requirement of accessibility is behind the scenes in the code of your website. Using standard HTML tags and providing text-based formats of all facets of your site is essential.
ADA Compliant Websites: Where Do I Go From Here?
Even though your immediate risk of a lawsuit may be low, the rise in suites suggests that we are headed toward the possibility of being required to have compliant and accessible websites. Furthermore, having an accessible website demonstrates that your business is inclusive and values every user that visits your website. Ensuring accessibility can be a boon to your company, converting prospects on the fence to customers and even showing potential hires that your company values inclusivity.
But that doesn’t mean you have to redesign your website completely. If your site was built using WordPress as its Content Management System (CMS), you’re halfway to being accessible, as many of the code-based factors mentioned above come standard with WordPress websites. Additionally, accessibility-based plugins are available to add to your website—akin to adding an app to your smartphone—that provides instant accessibility options to users, such as keyboard navigation, contrast adjustment, font-size increased, and more.
If you are interested in adding an accessibility plugin to your website or want to discuss ADA compliance website design, contact Evolved Office today. We’ll walk you through your options, so you can ensure your website is accessible no matter who visits.