As organizations around the world scramble to bring their sites into compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), focus on other, preexisting accessibility regulations has also intensified. The United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the most visible and complicated pieces of accessibility legislation. Let’s look at some of the ins and outs of what an ADA compliant website means today. Or, if you're interested in seeing the nitty-gritty details of your site's accessibility, request a free website audit report using the form on this page.
While the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) does not enforce the ADA, it does offer publications and other technical assistance on the basic requirements of the law, including covered employers’ obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified job applicants and employees with disabilities. For a quick overview of the ADA read “The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Brief Overview.”
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.
The 2014 case involving Peapod, an online grocery retailer emphasizes that being ADA compliant goes beyond your website. The settlement required Peapod to make its mobile applications accessible by March 2015 and its website accessible by September 2015. Since mobile apps are fast becoming the preferred method of online shopping, e-commerce sites must focus on app accessibility too. 
Since the ADA does not specifically address web accessibility, it means the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not, at this time, intervene. This means it cannot levy fines or penalties against non-compliant businesses. However, individuals and groups can file civil suits against businesses. If the court rules in the plaintiffs’ favor (the individual or group), the business will be ordered to make their website accessible, and may have to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney fees in some cases. Failure to meet these obligations in the time allotted may result in a civil contempt of court charge or additional legal action by the plaintiff.
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.
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.”
This guy is right on! You should learn new skills that are critical to your success instead of focusing on your business. Just making a website is easy, making one that is easy for your users to navigate, captures your users' interactions, feed that back to a CRM so you can act on it and setting up automation to handle each one properly so you don't lose the customer is not. (And do not forget, the design of your site is critical to the effectiveness of Google and Microsoft Ads. Without them, no one will ever see your new, beautiful site.)
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.
Most recently, however, pizza chain Domino's has been brought under suit for their website not being accessible for specialty ordering. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case, instead upholding the decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who said the “alleged inaccessibility of Domino’s website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises—which are places of public accommodation.”
Luckily, the international nonprofit World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) brings together smart people who develop open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. They produce recommendations for making websites fair and equally accessible for the highest number of people possible. Their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 offer clear guidance for web developers to achieve ADA compliance.
Please check the laws applying to the size of your company. This means number of employees. If you expect to hire persons with disabilities and/or have customers who may be disabled then I recommend that you provide a ramp opening in your sidewalk for easier access for wheelchairs. Bathrooms should include a larger area for a person with a disability and bars placed strategically for ease of movement on and off the toilet. Paper towels should be within reach. Please have someone research this in case I missed something. Having an employee who is attentive to opening the door is always a goo...
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.

Do all websites have to be ADA compliant? Does yours? Though the legal definitions are somewhat unclear, it is clear that inaccessibility invites legal action and misgivings from customers. Web accessibility does not have to be complex, and it may not take much to test your site and make it accessible. Take web accessibility step by step and you can avoid stressful lawsuits, and invite all patrons to your website.
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.
Since the ADA does not specifically address web accessibility, it means the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not, at this time, intervene. This means it cannot levy fines or penalties against non-compliant businesses. However, individuals and groups can file civil suits against businesses. If the court rules in the plaintiffs’ favor (the individual or group), the business will be ordered to make their website accessible, and may have to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney fees in some cases. Failure to meet these obligations in the time allotted may result in a civil contempt of court charge or additional legal action by the plaintiff.
Please check the laws applying to the size of your company. This means number of employees. If you expect to hire persons with disabilities and/or have customers who may be disabled then I recommend that you provide a ramp opening in your sidewalk for easier access for wheelchairs. Bathrooms should include a larger area for a person with a disability and bars placed strategically for ease of movement on and off the toilet. Paper towels should be within reach. Please have someone research this in case I missed something. Having an employee who is attentive to opening the door is always a goo...
Webpage designers often have aesthetic preferences and may want everyone to see their webpages in exactly the same color, size and layout. But because of their disability, many people with low vision do not see webpages the same as other people. Some see only small portions of a computer display at one time. Others cannot see text or images that are too small. Still others can only see website content if it appears in specific colors. For these reasons, many people with low vision use specific color and font settings when they access the Internet – settings that are often very different from those most people use. For example, many people with low vision need to use high contrast settings, such as bold white or yellow letters on a black background. Others need just the opposite – bold black text on a white or yellow background. And, many must use softer, more subtle color combinations.
Now you know that some types of content and format on webpages can pose barriers for people with disabilities. The next steps are to develop an action plan to fix web content that is currently inaccessible and implement procedures to ensure that all new and modified web content is accessible. The website accessibility checklist included in this section helps you assess what needs to be done.
Government Code §11546.7 – The requirement that state agency heads certify, every two years, that their agency’s website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.0 or a subsequent version, at Level AA or higher, and the requirements of Sections 11135 and 7405 of the Government Code. Created by AB 434 (Baker, Chapter 780, Statutes of 2017), and sometimes referred to as AB 434.
!function(e){function n(t){if(r[t])return r[t].exports;var o=r[t]={i:t,l:!1,exports:{}};return e[t].call(o.exports,o,o.exports,n),o.l=!0,o.exports}var t=window.ansWebpackJsonpFunction;window.ansWebpackJsonpFunction=function(n,r,i){for(var s,u,l=0,a=[];l1)for(var t=1;tp)return!1;if(d>f)return!1;var e=window.require.hasModule("shared/browser")&&window.require("shared/browser");return!e||!e.opera}function u(){var e="";return"quora.com"==window.Q.subdomainSuffix&&(e+=[window.location.protocol,"//log.quora.com"].join("")),e+="/ajax/log_errors_3RD_PARTY_POST"}function l(){var e=i(h);h=[],0!==e.length&&c(u(),{revision:window.Q.revision,errors:JSON.stringify(e)})}var a=t("./third_party/tracekit.js"),c=t("./shared/basicrpc.js").rpc;a.remoteFetching=!1,a.collectWindowErrors=!0,a.report.subscribe(r);var f=10,p=window.Q&&window.Q.errorSamplingRate||1,h=[],d=0,m=o(l,1e3),y=window.console&&!(window.NODE_JS&&window.UNIT_TEST);n.report=function(e){try{y&&console.error(e.stack||e),a.report(e)}catch(e){}};var w=function(e,n,t){r({name:n,message:t,source:e,stack:a.computeStackTrace.ofCaller().stack||[]}),y&&console.error(t)};n.logJsError=w.bind(null,"js"),n.logMobileJsError=w.bind(null,"mobile_js")},"./shared/globals.js":function(e,n,t){var r=t("./shared/links.js");(window.Q=window.Q||{}).openUrl=function(e,n){var t=e.href;return r.linkClicked(t,n,e),window.open(t).opener=null,!1}},"./shared/links.js":function(e,n){var t=[];n.onLinkClick=function(e){t.push(e)},n.linkClicked=function(e,n,r){for(var o=0;o>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError;for(arguments.length>1&&(t=n),r=0;r>>0,r=arguments.length>=2?arguments[1]:void 0,o=0;o>>0;if(0===o)return-1;var i=+n||0;if(Math.abs(i)===Infinity&&(i=0),i>=o)return-1;for(t=Math.max(i>=0?i:o-Math.abs(i),0);t>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError(e+" is not a function");for(arguments.length>1&&(t=n),r=0;r>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError(e+" is not a function");for(arguments.length>1&&(t=n),r=new Array(s),o=0;o>>0;if("function"!=typeof e)throw new TypeError;for(var r=[],o=arguments.length>=2?arguments[1]:void 0,i=0;i>>0,o=0;if(2==arguments.length)n=arguments[1];else{for(;o=r)throw new TypeError("Reduce of empty array with no initial value");n=t[o++]}for(;o>>0;if(0===o)return-1;for(n=o-1,arguments.length>1&&(n=Number(arguments[1]),n!=n?n=0:0!==n&&n!=1/0&&n!=-1/0&&(n=(n>0||-1)*Math.floor(Math.abs(n)))),t=n>=0?Math.min(n,o-1):o-Math.abs(n);t>=0;t--)if(t in r&&r[t]===e)return t;return-1};t(Array.prototype,"lastIndexOf",c)}if(!Array.prototype.includes){var f=function(e){"use strict";if(null==this)throw new TypeError("Array.prototype.includes called on null or undefined");var n=Object(this),t=parseInt(n.length,10)||0;if(0===t)return!1;var r,o=parseInt(arguments[1],10)||0;o>=0?r=o:(r=t+o)<0&&(r=0);for(var i;r
It isn’t a problem by default, a lot of it comes down to how it is built. I’d suggest either considering a highly accessible contingency option, or build those components in such a way that there is a level of accessibility baked into it. If you need help with that testing or review email us at questions at yokoco.com and we’ll be able to let you know the cost for us to lend a hand.
The ADA guidelines are often updated so that businesses can better understand how various disabilities can affect the way that people will interact with websites and digital content. The guidelines also explain why certain barriers can prevent disabled individuals from using or even accessing a website. With these goals in mind, it is important to note that organizations need to review the guidelines on a yearly basis. New technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence10, are being used to help people with disabilities get the most out of the digital world. If organizations fail to read the latest ADA guidelines, then they will soon discover that their approach to web accessibility is outdated, and they might be in violation of digital accessibility laws.
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.
If you use outside resources for your web needs, or have a dedicated web person or company, call them immediately. If you have a department or staff, even better. But— if you are working on your own, you would do yourself and your business a favor to contact a reputable web developer to discuss how to make your site accessible and avoid possible lawsuits. The older your website, the more likely it is that it is NOT compliant. Take action now!
ADA website compliance is about making sure that everyone has equal access to all the elements on your website and apps. That may mean you need to provide alternatives for some of the functions and content on your site in order to meet ADA website compliance standards. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the accommodations that need to be incorporated into your website to meet the ADA guidelines:
This is the reason why I think web design firms have to position themselves as solution providers and not just web guys/gals. A client doesn't need a website, they need sales. The website is just part of that solution but it's not the solution and unlike web design, service like email marketing automation, SEO, and PPC requires an experienced professional.

Any business that is considered a “place of public accommodation” is required to provide equal access to services under the nondiscrimination requirements of Title III of ADA. When you look at the guidelines closely, this includes hotels, entertainment venues, legal and accounting firms, retail stores, and virtually every business that is not a private club, including businesses that exist solely on the web.
×