5 Reasons to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law to protect people with different abilities from discrimination. In 1999, the ADA Title III amendment extended these civil rights protections to include websites. In other words, if your website isn’t ADA compliant, you aren’t just missing out on potential customers — you could be breaking the law. If you operate a business that caters to any kind of audience or user base, it’s important to understand the implications of not being ADA compliant and take steps toward making your website accessible. Read on for more information about why you should make your website ADA compliant and how to do it right away.
ADA Compliance Is Good for Business
Adhering to ADA guidelines may seem like a big headache and a lot of extra work, but it’s actually good business. In fact, according to the National Federation of the Blind, failure to comply with ADA requirements is the number one reason that the organization takes companies to court for discrimination.
Now, you might be thinking that it’s unlikely that your small business will get taken to court for non-compliance. But, the simple fact is that not being ADA compliant could be a huge loss in business. Let’s say you operate a restaurant. If a blind person comes in and can’t get a menu because it isn’t available in braille, they may choose to go to the restaurant next door instead.
This might happen in a variety of other situations as well. If you can’t accommodate someone with a service animal or have a website that isn’t navigable by keyboard, you may be costing yourself business without even realizing it.
ADA benefits for individuals with disabilities
Beyond the business side, there are also benefits to individuals who require ADA compliance. In general, making your website more accessible can benefit people with all different types of disabilities.
Some of these disabilities include blindness, deafness, paralysis, intellectual or developmental disabilities, and reliance on a service animal. In order to make your website accessible, you’ll want to take the following five key steps.
Make Your Website ADA Compliant Right Now
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. While making your website ADA compliant may seem like a big, scary project, there are easy ways to get started right away.
First, make sure that your business website is up to date. Since the ADA was issued in 1999, the tech industry has come a long way, and many new and updated tools are available for making your website accessible.
Next, if you notice any issues with your website’s functionality, like broken links or images not displaying properly, fix them as soon as possible. This will make your website more usable and accessible to everyone, regardless of any disabilities that they might have.
Avoid Legal Issues and Damages
Beyond the business advantages of making your website ADA compliant, there are legal implications as well. If you fail to make your business website ADA compliant, you could face legal action, fines, and even be required to change your website. Let’s say you operate a hair salon and do not have your website accessible. A blind customer may come in, try to book an appointment online, and not be able to do so because the website isn’t ADA compliant. At this point, they would likely call the salon and ask for their site to be fixed. If you are not able to make the adjustments needed quickly, the customer could file a complaint with the DOJ or file a lawsuit in small claims court. The customer would likely win the case, and you would be liable for their legal fees as well as an amount from $1,000 up to $150,000 per violation.
It Comes with a New Tax Incentive
One of the biggest ADA compliance issues is the cost of making your website accessible. Before, this was an issue for businesses of all sizes — but now, there is a new tax incentive in play that could help cover the costs of ADA compliance. Businesses will be able to claim up to 50% of the cost of making their websites compliant, and those who are eligible can claim that amount retroactively as well. The amount you claim will depend on the size of your business and your income, but the average amount claimed is about $750.
For example, let’s say you run a small business with a gross income of $100,000 per year. Retroactively, you would be able to claim $375 for each of the past three years, for a total of $1,125.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Started
Now, you may be thinking that it’s too late to make your website ADA compliant. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Making your website compliant is something that you can do at any time. In fact, it’s always a good idea to make your website more accessible — even if it’s satisfying the requirements of the ADA isn’t a factor. Making your website accessible benefits everyone, and it’s never too late to start improving your website’s design.