In 2020, building and maintaining an ADA compliant website is a must for reaching more customers and lowering your liability, yet few web developers and even fewer digital marketing agencies are educating clients on the need for ADA compliant web design. Here’s what you need to know about ADA compliance in 2020.
Websites are now an essential part of life for every member of modern society. COVID-19 has now increased that importance exponentially. For instance, e-commerce growth rapidly increased as of mid-April. With the rising importance of websites, combined with a push for websites to become ADA compliant as of 2018, it is no surprise that ADA Web Accessibility lawsuits and complaints have increased year over year since 2013.
There are two characteristics of these lawsuits that could be disruptive for any business:
Most companies would rather get the lawsuit over and done with than spend the extra time and money it would take to fight the case in court. What this allows for is an opportunity for lawsuits like this to become more frequent as lawyers determine, based on the stats, that companies will be most likely to settle out of court.
Imagine the disruption that multiple lawsuits would create for any company. When you look at the current climate and struggle that businesses are going through as a result of COVID-19, it is pretty likely that multiple lawsuits could be the final straw for a struggling business.
What COVID-19 has shown us is that our current situation is far from over which means two things when it comes to the world wide web. One, the importance of websites will continue to rise and will soon be considered one hundred percent essential. Two, because websites are considered essential, those advocating for the rights of users with disabilities will only increase their cause to make sure that the internet is accessible for everyone.
The first step in any scenario with legal implications is to seek legal counsel. Start with the law firm that your company already engages with. However, please ask honest questions about the law firm’s experience with ADA compliance when it comes to websites. No one likes being anyone’s test subject.
The second step in the process is to audit your site to see if it complies with WCAG 2.0 standards. It is important in this step to not just rely on an automated tool you find on the internet. No single piece of software is without its flaws and you don’t want to be subject to a lawsuit because the software you used had a bug and missed some very important information. Therefore, it is important that you engage with a team who has a high level of ADA compliance experience to perform the audit for you.
An audit can only reveal the issues your site has. Fixing these issues becomes the next important step in the process. It is important to note that you could be looking at a complete overhaul of your site. Let me encourage you to wisely consider this option as it can help speed up the process of compliance since you will not be spending the majority of your time addressing issues with legacy code. As with the previous step, make sure to employ a team of experts to help you in this process.
It’s important to note that static websites should no longer exist anywhere ever again on the internet, ever, ever, ever. Ok, now that we have established that point, we can agree that all websites are organic in that they grow and change over time. It is for this reason that you need to have a plan in place to review/audit and fix ADA issues on your site on a monthly basis.
All your efforts in being ADA compliant will not keep someone from deciding that they think they have found something worthy of suing you over. However, it’s a completely different experience now because you have the ability to show everything you have been doing to be ADA compliant. There are two possible outcomes here. One, you have the ability and expertise at your disposal to prove if the lawsuit has any merit. Two, you did have an error you have not caught yet and you have the ability and expertise to fix it.
At the end of the day, we all want to create great digital experiences for every user that might come across our sites. ADA helps us view the current situation as an opportunity to be proactively considering how our experiences affect everyone. This gives us the ability to be instruments of progress. Unique business opportunities and innovative solutions always reveal themselves as problems at first. Let’s be the courageous ones that see through the solution’s problematic facade.
We love helping clients navigate the world of ADA. We are not lawyers, but we do have tested and proven solutions for your business when it comes to making sure your digital experiences are accessible for all users. From audits to the implementation of fixes, we can help!
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