According to Creating an Accessible Presence for the Lodging Industry by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, “Many businesses don’t understand that the law actually requires them to make their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities. There is a common misperception that the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state and local laws only deal with physical buildings and facilities, so-called “brick and mortar” establishments, and that non-building-related business operations—such as websites—are not covered by these laws. Nothing could be further from the truth—at least with respect to websites that have some sort of connection, or “nexus,” to physical places of business.”
Aside from attempting to compliant for compliance’s sake, having an ADA accessible website can improve the overall user experience and site traffic. An ADA compliant site can increase your target audience (by making it easy for those with disabilities to navigate around), improve your SEO efforts (by helping search engines to more easily crawl your pages and content), and help your overall reputation.

While the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act on online accessibility is likely to remain vague for the foreseeable future, there is no question that equal access is a major concern for users across America, and for the courts that serve those users. In lieu of a clear set of national guidelines, abiding by WCAG accessibility standards remains the best option for most organizations. It’s not just a smart way to avoid accessibility lawsuits and negative publicity—providing accessible solutions for all users is just the right thing to do.


!function(n,t){function r(e,n){return Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty.call(e,n)}function o(e){return void 0===e}if(n){var i={},s=n.TraceKit,u=[].slice,l="?";i.noConflict=function(){return n.TraceKit=s,i},i.wrap=function(e){function n(){try{return e.apply(this,arguments)}catch(e){throw i.report(e),e}}return n},i.report=function(){function e(e){l(),h.push(e)}function t(e){for(var n=h.length-1;n>=0;--n)h[n]===e&&h.splice(n,1)}function o(e,n){var t=null;if(!n||i.collectWindowErrors){for(var o in h)if(r(h,o))try{h[o].apply(null,[e].concat(u.call(arguments,2)))}catch(e){t=e}if(t)throw t}}function s(e,n,t,r,s){var u=null;if(y)i.computeStackTrace.augmentStackTraceWithInitialElement(y,n,t,e),a();else if(s)u=i.computeStackTrace(s),o(u,!0);else{var l={url:n,line:t,column:r};l.func=i.computeStackTrace.guessFunctionName(l.url,l.line),l.context=i.computeStackTrace.gatherContext(l.url,l.line),u={mode:"onerror",message:e,stack:[l]},o(u,!0)}return!!f&&f.apply(this,arguments)}function l(){!0!==p&&(f=n.onerror,n.onerror=s,p=!0)}function a(){var e=y,n=d;d=null,y=null,m=null,o.apply(null,[e,!1].concat(n))}function c(e){if(y){if(m===e)return;a()}var t=i.computeStackTrace(e);throw y=t,m=e,d=u.call(arguments,1),n.setTimeout(function(){m===e&&a()},t.incomplete?2e3:0),e}var f,p,h=[],d=null,m=null,y=null;return c.subscribe=e,c.unsubscribe=t,c}(),i.computeStackTrace=function(){function e(e){if(!i.remoteFetching)return"";try{var t=function(){try{return new n.XMLHttpRequest}catch(e){return new n.ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP")}},r=t();return r.open("GET",e,!1),r.send(""),r.responseText}catch(e){return""}}function t(t){if("string"!=typeof t)return[];if(!r(x,t)){var o="",i="";try{i=n.document.domain}catch(e){}var s=/(.*)\:\/\/([^:\/]+)([:\d]*)\/{0,1}([\s\S]*)/.exec(t);s&&s[2]===i&&(o=e(t)),x[t]=o?o.split("\n"):[]}return x[t]}function s(e,n){var r,i=/function ([^(]*)\(([^)]*)\)/,s=/['"]?([0-9A-Za-z$_]+)['"]?\s*[:=]\s*(function|eval|new Function)/,u="",a=10,c=t(e);if(!c.length)return l;for(var f=0;f0?s:null}function a(e){return e.replace(/[\-\[\]{}()*+?.,\\\^$|#]/g,"\\$&")}function c(e){return a(e).replace("<","(?:<|<)").replace(">","(?:>|>)").replace("&","(?:&|&)").replace('"','(?:"|")').replace(/\s+/g,"\\s+")}function f(e,n){for(var r,o,i=0,s=n.length;ir&&(o=s.exec(i[r]))?o.index:null}function h(e){if(!o(n&&n.document)){for(var t,r,i,s,u=[n.location.href],l=n.document.getElementsByTagName("script"),p=""+e,h=/^function(?:\s+([\w$]+))?\s*\(([\w\s,]*)\)\s*\{\s*(\S[\s\S]*\S)\s*\}\s*$/,d=/^function on([\w$]+)\s*\(event\)\s*\{\s*(\S[\s\S]*\S)\s*\}\s*$/,m=0;m]+)>|([^\)]+))\((.*)\))? in (.*):\s*$/i,i=n.split("\n"),l=[],a=0;a=0&&(g.line=v+j.substring(0,x).split("\n").length)}}}else if(i=p.exec(o[w])){var _=n.location.href.replace(/#.*$/,""),T=new RegExp(c(o[w+1])),E=f(T,[_]);g={url:_,func:"",args:[],line:E?E.line:i[1],column:null}}if(g){g.func||(g.func=s(g.url,g.line));var k=u(g.url,g.line),A=k?k[Math.floor(k.length/2)]:null;k&&A.replace(/^\s*/,"")===o[w+1].replace(/^\s*/,"")?g.context=k:g.context=[o[w+1]],h.push(g)}}return h.length?{mode:"multiline",name:e.name,message:o[0],stack:h}:null}function w(e,n,t,r){var o={url:n,line:t};if(o.url&&o.line){e.incomplete=!1,o.func||(o.func=s(o.url,o.line)),o.context||(o.context=u(o.url,o.line));var i=/ '([^']+)' /.exec(r);if(i&&(o.column=p(i[1],o.url,o.line)),e.stack.length>0&&e.stack[0].url===o.url){if(e.stack[0].line===o.line)return!1;if(!e.stack[0].line&&e.stack[0].func===o.func)return e.stack[0].line=o.line,e.stack[0].context=o.context,!1}return e.stack.unshift(o),e.partial=!0,!0}return e.incomplete=!0,!1}function g(e,n){for(var t,r,o,u=/function\s+([_$a-zA-Z\xA0-\uFFFF][_$a-zA-Z0-9\xA0-\uFFFF]*)?\s*\(/i,a=[],c={},f=!1,d=g.caller;d&&!f;d=d.caller)if(d!==v&&d!==i.report){if(r={url:null,func:l,args:[],line:null,column:null},d.name?r.func=d.name:(t=u.exec(d.toString()))&&(r.func=t[1]),"undefined"==typeof r.func)try{r.func=t.input.substring(0,t.input.indexOf("{"))}catch(e){}if(o=h(d)){r.url=o.url,r.line=o.line,r.func===l&&(r.func=s(r.url,r.line));var m=/ '([^']+)' /.exec(e.message||e.description);m&&(r.column=p(m[1],o.url,o.line))}c[""+d]?f=!0:c[""+d]=!0,a.push(r)}n&&a.splice(0,n);var y={mode:"callers",name:e.name,message:e.message,stack:a};return w(y,e.sourceURL||e.fileName,e.line||e.lineNumber,e.message||e.description),y}function v(e,n){var t=null;n=null==n?0:+n;try{if(t=m(e))return t}catch(e){if(j)throw e}try{if(t=d(e))return t}catch(e){if(j)throw e}try{if(t=y(e))return t}catch(e){if(j)throw e}try{if(t=g(e,n+1))return t}catch(e){if(j)throw e}return{mode:"failed"}}function b(e){e=1+(null==e?0:+e);try{throw new Error}catch(n){return v(n,e+1)}}var j=!1,x={};return v.augmentStackTraceWithInitialElement=w,v.guessFunctionName=s,v.gatherContext=u,v.ofCaller=b,v.getSource=t,v}(),i.extendToAsynchronousCallbacks=function(){var e=function(e){var t=n[e];n[e]=function(){var e=u.call(arguments),n=e[0];return"function"==typeof n&&(e[0]=i.wrap(n)),t.apply?t.apply(this,e):t(e[0],e[1])}};e("setTimeout"),e("setInterval")},i.remoteFetching||(i.remoteFetching=!0),i.collectWindowErrors||(i.collectWindowErrors=!0),(!i.linesOfContext||i.linesOfContext<1)&&(i.linesOfContext=11),void 0!==e&&e.exports&&n.module!==e?e.exports=i:"function"==typeof define&&define.amd?define("TraceKit",[],i):n.TraceKit=i}}("undefined"!=typeof window?window:global)},"./webpack-loaders/expose-loader/index.js?require!./shared/require-global.js":function(e,n,t){(function(n){e.exports=n.require=t("./shared/require-global.js")}).call(n,t("../../../lib/node_modules/webpack/buildin/global.js"))}});
Yes, in time non-ADA compliant websites will be penalized in the search engines. It's already on their radar. But for now they are still negatively affected, just in an indirect way. Live traffic behavior (user experience) is now factored into Google's algorithm and is a ranking signal. Negative user interactions absolutely have negative affects on rankings.
Your site would need to have a text only option, with all functionality accessible through a keyboard for visitors with mobility issues. Once you make these and other changes to meet ADA guidelines, your site would need to be tested by a website development company familiar with ADA compliance issues to be sure that visitors who use assistive technology such as screen readers are able to access your web content fully.
Hey OB – Disclaimer – none of this is legal advice and you’d want to check with a lawyer to know if you’re at risk for any action if you’re not ADA compliant. Based on what we’ve seen if you don’t have a physical retail or service location, and you don’t receive any funding from the government you likely aren’t required to have a website that would be considered compliant. Some people expect that to change in the next few years, but that’s what we know for now. Let us know if you have more questions or would like to test your site.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was developed in 1990 and is meant to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as anyone else. This means any businesses that serve the public must make sure their building accommodates people with disabilities of various kinds. And now that the internet is so widely used, ADA compliance also applies to websites and even mobile apps. Basically, this means that your website needs to be accessible to people who have disabilities that affect their hearing, vision or physical capacities.
You are correct, ADA defines an “employer” as any person who is 1) engaged in an industry affecting commerce; 2) employes 15 or more full-time employees each work day; and 3) for at least 20 or more calendar weeks in the year. In the context of physical spaces, ADA would not apply to companies with fewer than 15 employees. However, courts don’t seem to have come to a consensus on what digital compliance really should look like. Because websites can be accessed anywhere in the country, small business owners might potentially face lawsuits in unfavorable jurisdictions. If you are a small business owner, I would recommend consulting with an accessibility lawyer and ask what they recommend.
Macy is a Content Writer at WebFX. With a Content Marketing Certification, she's an expert in crafting pieces filled with the facts about all things digital marketing. You'll find many of her pieces featured on UpCity's Top Digital Marketing Articles of the Week. When she isn't clacking her keys, she's wondering why her dog is so cute. Follow her on Twitter @iinfinitestorm.
×