UPDATE: Since writing this post in August 2017, several important changes have taken place in the laws regarding ADA compliance for websites. On December 26, 2017, the Department of Justice announced that they have withdrawn the Obama-era Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking mentioned in this article which intended to require ADA website compliance. The DOJ’s withdrawal announcement stated, “The Department will continue to assess whether specific technical standards are necessary and appropriate to assist covered entities with complying with the ADA.”
For most businesses, the need for ADA web compliance means they will need to make at least some adjustments to all of their online marketing strategies. For instance, if your company provides tax preparation services, all of the tax forms you provide for customers to download would need to meet accessibility standards. Any online tax preparation services that you offer would also need to be configured so they meet ADA standards, as would your mobile app.
Upon discovering issues faced by disabled government employees and the public, revisions to section 508 were made. The issues that were uncovered involved websites, documents, and software programs. As of January 2018, the updated 508 standards require all federal agencies and contractors to create web content accessible to all. The updated standards also include Website 508 compliance.

Title III of the ADA requires that every owner, lessor, or operator of a “place of public accommodation” provide equal access to users who meet ADA standards for disability. With roughly 1.66 billion people around the world making online purchases in 2017, one might reasonably presume that this concept extends to websites, but from a legal standpoint, there is a surprising amount of grey area.
If your website is not already ADA compliant, you are automatically missing out on millions of potential customers who cannot access your site due to their disabilities. In fact, there are nearly 50 million people with disabilities in the U.S., which means about 19 percent of this country has a disability. Many of them might be interested in your products or services, but once they arrive at your website, they won't be able to navigate easily enough to buy anything or even contact you, all because your website is only accessible to people without disabilities. Thus, they may move on to your competitors.
The legal issue for websites is whether website operators are operating “a place of public accommodation.” The statute lists 12 different types of public accommodations including somewhat of a catchall that includes “other sales or rental establishment.” The list, created when the law was passed in 1988, conceivably covers most commercial establishments, but does not expressly include websites.
Because they only read text, screen readers and refreshable Braille displays cannot interpret photographs, charts, color-coded information, or other graphic elements on a webpage. For this reason, a photograph of a mayor on a city’s website is inaccessible to people who use these assistive technologies, and a blind person visiting the website would be unable to tell if the image is a photo, a logo, a map, a chart, artwork, a link to another page, or even a blank page.

Many government services and activities are also provided on websites because the public is able to participate in them at any time of day and without the assistance of government personnel. Many government websites offer a low cost, quick, and convenient way of filing tax returns, paying bills, renewing licenses, signing up for programs, applying for permits or funding, submitting job applications, and performing a wide variety of other activities.

You will also see tons of ” free analysis” offers out there. The truth behind them is they don’t even offer the service themselves. With all the hype of ADA compliance and websites, there are tons of people trying to take advantage of businesses that don’t know any better. Here at GrowIT media, we have trained staff who have brought federal websites up to code and understand how to do it properly.

What’s the scope of the work? Will the website be basic with just a few pages about your company, its services, and contact information? Or will it also have an e-commerce section for online shopping, a blog, or content for visitors to download? Before you hire a web designer, make sure you have a thorough, specific list of the components you must have the designer include in the web design.
(function(){"use strict";function s(e){return"function"==typeof e||"object"==typeof e&&null!==e}function u(e){return"function"==typeof e}function l(e){X=e}function a(e){G=e}function c(){return function(){r.nextTick(d)}}function f(){var e=0,n=new ne(d),t=document.createTextNode("");return n.observe(t,{characterData:!0}),function(){t.data=e=++e%2}}function p(){var e=new MessageChannel;return e.port1.onmessage=d,function(){e.port2.postMessage(0)}}function h(){return function(){setTimeout(d,1)}}function d(){for(var e=0;et.length)&&(n=t.length),n-=e.length;var r=t.indexOf(e,n);return-1!==r&&r===n}),String.prototype.startsWith||(String.prototype.startsWith=function(e,n){return n=n||0,this.substr(n,e.length)===e}),String.prototype.trim||(String.prototype.trim=function(){return this.replace(/^[\s\uFEFF\xA0]+|[\s\uFEFF\xA0]+$/g,"")}),String.prototype.includes||(String.prototype.includes=function(e,n){"use strict";return"number"!=typeof n&&(n=0),!(n+e.length>this.length)&&-1!==this.indexOf(e,n)})},"./shared/require-global.js":function(e,n,t){e.exports=t("./shared/require-shim.js")},"./shared/require-shim.js":function(e,n,t){var r=t("./shared/errors.js"),o=(this.window,!1),i=null,s=null,u=new Promise(function(e,n){i=e,s=n}),l=function(e){if(!l.hasModule(e)){var n=new Error('Cannot find module "'+e+'"');throw n.code="MODULE_NOT_FOUND",n}return t("./"+e+".js")};l.loadChunk=function(e){return u.then(function(){return"main"==e?t.e("main").then(function(e){t("./main.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"dev"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("dev")]).then(function(e){t("./shared/dev.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"internal"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("internal"),t.e("qtext2"),t.e("dev")]).then(function(e){t("./internal.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"ads_manager"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("ads_manager")]).then(function(e){t("./ads_manager/main.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"publisher_dashboard"==e?t.e("publisher_dashboard").then(function(e){undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined,undefined}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):"content_widgets"==e?Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("content_widgets")]).then(function(e){t("./content_widgets.iframe.js")}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe):void 0})},l.whenReady=function(e,n){Promise.all(window.ansWebWebpackChunks.map(function(e){return l.loadChunk(e)})).then(function(){n()})},l.installPageProperties=function(e,n){window.Q.settings=e,window.Q.gating=n,o=!0,i()},l.assertPagePropertiesInstalled=function(){o||(s(),r.logJsError("installPageProperties","The install page properties promise was rejected in require-shim."))},l.prefetchAll=function(){t("./settings.js");Promise.all([t.e("main"),t.e("qtext2")]).then(function(){}.bind(null,t))["catch"](t.oe)},l.hasModule=function(e){return!!window.NODE_JS||t.m.hasOwnProperty("./"+e+".js")},l.execAll=function(){var e=Object.keys(t.m);try{for(var n=0;n
Hi! I'm Gina, a freelance graphic and web designer that specializes in building brand identities and intuitive websites for new entrepreneurs and small businesses. My goal is to help you build a brand that accurately conveys your essence and is flexible enough to evolve with you as you grow. Let's work together to find and hone your brand voice, so that your audience can hear your message loud and clear!
State and local governments will often post documents on their websites using Portable Document Format (PDF). But PDF documents, or those in other image based formats, are often not accessible to blind people who use screen readers and people with low vision who use text enlargement programs or different color and font settings to read computer displays.
!function(n){function e(e){for(var t,r,i=e[0],a=e[1],u=0,c=[];u1&&arguments[1]!==undefined?arguments[1]:"",t=window,r=Date.now();if(n=e+n,t.ansFrontendGlobals&&t.ansFrontendGlobals.settings&&t.ansFrontendGlobals.settings.gates&&t.ansFrontendGlobals.settings.gates.react_console_log_perf_info){var i=t.performance&&t.performance.now?t.performance.now():r;console.log("".concat(n,": ").concat(i))}o[n]=r}},iuEU:function(n,e){n.exports=react-relay},oqNQ:function(n,e,t){"use strict";t.r(e);var o=t("S0B4");Object(o.a)("entryLoaded");var r=function(n){Promise.all([t.e("vendor"),t.e("common")]).then(t.bind(null,"A+VG")).then(function(e){n(e)})};window.runApp=function(){Object(o.a)("runAppCalled"),r(function(n){n.runApp()})},window.inlineReact=function(n,e,t,r){Object(o.a)("InlineReactCalled","loadable"),a(n,e,t,r)},window.shimProxy=window.shimProxy||{webnodeSubscribeEventsQueue:[]};var i=!1,a=function(n,e,t,a){var u=function(){i||(i=!0,r(function(r){Object(o.a)("StartAppInlineReactCalled","loadable"),r.inlineReact(n,e,t,a)}))};window.shimProxy.webnode?window.shimProxy.webnode.subscribe("REACT_LOADABLE_LOADED",u):window.shimProxy.webnodeSubscribeEventsQueue.push(["REACT_LOADABLE_LOADED",u])};window.renderPrefetchedPage=function(n,e,t,o){r(function(r){r.renderPrefetchedPage(n,e,t,o)})},window.reportPageSpeedData=function(n){Promise.all([t.e("vendor"),t.e("common")]).then(t.bind(null,"pys6")).then(function(e){e.reportPageData(n)})},window.setTimingData=function(n){Promise.all([t.e("vendor"),t.e("common")]).then(t.bind(null,"pys6")).then(function(e){e.setTimingData(n)})},window.setGlobalMetadata=function(n){Promise.all([t.e("vendor"),t.e("common")]).then(t.bind(null,"Gnru")).then(function(e){e.setGlobalMetadata(n)})},window.updateGlobalMetadata=function(n){Promise.all([t.e("vendor"),t.e("common")]).then(t.bind(null,"Gnru")).then(function(e){e.updateGlobalMetadata(n)})},window.setServerPerfCheckpointData=function(n){Promise.all([t.e("vendor"),t.e("common")]).then(t.bind(null,"pys6")).then(function(e){e.setServerPerfCheckpointData(n)})},window.setWebnodeLoadable=function(n){Promise.all([t.e("vendor"),t.e("common")]).then(t.bind(null,"0xW3")).then(function(e){e.setWebnodeLoadable(n)})}}});
Ensure that in-house staff and contractors responsible for webpage and content development are properly trained. Distribute the Department of Justice technical assistance document “Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities” to these in-house staff and contractors on an annual basis as a reminder. This technical assistance document is available on the ADA Home Page at www.ada.gov.
There are several phases to go through to make a website ADA accessible. First, it is important to have your existing website evaluated for ADA accessibility. Have this evaluation done by a company that specializes in ADA compliance for lodging properties. Most existing websites will not pass a detailed ADA evaluation. Depending on the results of your professional ADA inspection, you will either have to make necessary changes to your existing website, or have it redesigned to meet ADA accessibility guidelines. 
The ADA guidelines provide the foundation that organizations need to achieve digital accessibility best approaches, however they are not exhaustive. They do not provide direction for all of the accessibility challenges that people with disabilities face. They also fail to provide detailed technical instructions. With these limitations in mind, there is a ray of hope.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first passed in 1990. Twenty years later, the US Department of Justice released an update called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. These standards cover the design of physical spaces and have been interpreted to include web locations as well, so it can be difficult for the would-be accessible website designer to use them.

Hi! I'm Gina, a freelance graphic and web designer that specializes in building brand identities and intuitive websites for new entrepreneurs and small businesses. My goal is to help you build a brand that accurately conveys your essence and is flexible enough to evolve with you as you grow. Let's work together to find and hone your brand voice, so that your audience can hear your message loud and clear!

Do all websites have to be ADA compliant? Technically, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III, which concerns public businesses, does not specifically address websites. Local and state government websites must be accessible under Title II of the ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. However, ADA civil suits have been brought against businesses with inaccessible websites, and courts have ordered some businesses to make their websites accessible.
The legal issue for websites is whether website operators are operating “a place of public accommodation.” The statute lists 12 different types of public accommodations including somewhat of a catchall that includes “other sales or rental establishment.” The list, created when the law was passed in 1988, conceivably covers most commercial establishments, but does not expressly include websites.
The ADA statute identifies who is a person with a disability, who has obligations under the ADA, general non-discrimination requirements and other basic obligations. It delegates fleshing out those obligations to federal agencies. The agencies issue regulations and design standards. The regulations have the details on the rights of people with disabilities and responsibilities of employers, state and local governments, transportation providers, businesses and non-profit organizations. The design standards specify how many entrances need to be accessible, how many toilet rooms and the design for those elements.  To know what the ADA requires, you need to read the law, regulations and design standards.  
The good news for potential defendants is that the only remedies available in private ADA suits are injunctions that force you to come into compliance and attorneys’ fees. If the Department of Justice gets involved, they can seek civil fines and penalties. Hence, you need to do the risk/benefit analysis as to whether it is worth challenging the claim or not. This report says the lawsuits are on the rise.
For federal institutions, Section 508 makes it very clear that all federal-related websites must be accessible to all individuals, with and without disabilities. For private commercial websites, the Department of Justice (DOJ), which enforces the ADA, has made it clear that it interprets the ADA as applicable to websites. In 2010, the DOJ issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to specifically ensure all websites, public and private, are subject to ADA compliance. The DOJ’s proposed amendments to the ADA were initially expected in Spring of 2016 but have now been pushed back to 2018.

Leading web developers have been pioneering accessibility and publishing standards since 1994. In 1999, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). In essence, the people who determine how the internet is written came together to advise web developers on how to make websites accessible not only to people with disabilities, but to all web users, including those with highly limited devices.

For instance, if you have a video that displays the benefits of your product, but it doesn’t have captions, then people who are deaf or hard of hearing will not get to find out how great your product is. The same goes for when you have images with no alternate text. The point of the alternate text is to allow screen reading tools to describe the image to someone who is blind, so if you don’t have that text, some of your audience will miss out. Similarly, it’s important to ensure your website is fully accessible without a mouse so that people with physical limitations can use it.


Every year numerous lawsuits are taken against businesses that fail to follow the ADA’s proposed requirements for web accessibility. This failure occurs because organizations, including state and local government entities, fail to read the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit.8 They also do not follow the most up to date version of the WCAG.9 These two failures are not only detrimental to people with disabilities who want to effectively browse the web, but they are also inexcusable in today’s digitally driven world.
If you do get sued, if you immediately remediate your website, you may be able to get the lawsuit dismissed on mootness (there’s no longer anything in dispute, i.e. plaintiffs are arguing your website is inaccessible but you’ve already made it accessible). This definitely does not mean you should wait to fix your website but it does mean you may have an out.
The Department is evaluating whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of Web information and services are necessary and appropriate. Such an evaluation will be informed by an additional review of data and further analysis. The Department will continue to assess whether specific technical standards are necessary and appropriate to assist covered entities with complying with the ADA.
The U.S. Department of Transportation enforces regulations governing transit, which includes ensuring that recipients of federal aid and state and local entities responsible for roadways and pedestrian facilities do not discriminate on the basis of disability in highway transportation programs or activities. The department also issues guidance to transit agencies on how to comply with the ADA to ensure that public transit vehicles and facilities are accessible.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has specifically stated in rulings that websites should be designed so they are accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing, and physical disabilities. There’s a growing body of case law where the DOJ required companies to provide an ADA compliant website and levied hefty penalties when sites failed to measure up.

The ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed almost 30 years ago in 1990. This act was originally put in motion pertaining solely to physical location. It requires establishments to provide people with disabilities easy access to various levels throughout the business. This act was set to achieve an equal experience to all people, handicapped or not. 
×