February 19, 2019

Why Business Owners Need to Be Thinking About ADA Compliance

Mashia Stilt

The internet can feel like a lawless black hole of endless information. For most of us, we take for granted the ease-of-access and infinite number of web pages that are readily available at our fingertips. But for people with disabilities, navigating the web can be a serious challenge.

In 1990, the American Disabilities Act was enacted to help those who are disadvantaged practice the right to accessibility. This important piece of legislation pushed brick-and-mortar businesses to accommodate people with disabilities, ensuring them with the same opportunities that are given to non-disabled people. With the birth of the internet and the growing e-commerce market, ADA compliance must also be applied to websites and mobile apps.

If you are a business owner in the 21st century, chances are you’re also a website owner. In order to be ADA compliant, your website needs to be accessible to people with disabilities – which include people who have physical, hearing and/or vision handicaps. Title III of the ADA requires businesses to remove “access barriers” that could prevent a person with disabilities from purchasing any goods and services provided by businesses.

For your business goals, there are several benefits to updating your site to be ADA compliant. Complying with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will increase your SEO efforts and consumer appeal. Developing your website with alt text, meta tagging and video transcripts will attract more readers, grow traffic and improve rankings within search engines. Following the WCAG guidelines will make your website easier to read and help customers navigate to find what they are searching for. This will widen your target market and include the 19% of Americans with disabilities in your reach. Regardless of the size of your business, you are truly missing out on a large market of consumers if you are not ADA compliant. It goes without saying that better usability will lead to higher conversions in the long run.

Lastly, being ADA compliant protects your business against penalties from lawsuits, as well as a tarnished reputation. Big brands like Foot Locker, Hulu, Winn-Dixie, and Domino’s Pizza are all businesses that are privy to ADA lawsuits. With ADA lawsuits on the rise (predicted 30% increase in 2018), it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to making your business’ website ADA compliant.