December 2, 2023

With the recent updates to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many business owners are scrambling to make their websites accessible. While the law is a step in the right direction, many things still need to be clarified about what it means for website owners.

FALSE: “There is no legal risk  for having an inaccessible website.”

Business owners with an inaccessible website can be vulnerable to litigation for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). People with disabilities are protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with disabilities must have access to all public accommodations, including websites, under the ADA.

There are several ways in which a website can be made accessible to people with disabilities. For example, businesses can ensure that their website is compatible with screen reading software, provide text transcripts of audio content, and offer alternatives to video content that is not captioned. Businesses can also provide customer service telephone numbers and email addresses accessible to people with disabilities.

However, if a business owner fails to take these steps to make their website accessible, they can face legal risk. In the case of litigation, a  plaintiff would likely seek injunctive relief, which would require the business to make its website accessible, as well as damages for the plaintiff’s inability to access the website.

FALSE: “Nobody has won a website accessibility lawsuit.”

Thousands of lawsuits are filed annually against inaccessible websites. Of those suits, the Department of Justice has taken action against many notable companies. These include HR Block, Miami University, and Quik Trip. These companies were mandated to change their websites to be more accessible. Additionally, a suit in 2019 against the pizza company Domino’s resulted in a $4,000 award to the blind plaintiff and a mandate for redesigning the site.

FALSE: “Making a website accessible is a difficult process.”

There are many reasons why it is easy to make a website accessible. The most important reason is that many tools and resources are now available to help web developers create accessible websites.

In the past, creating an accessible website was much more challenging  because few resources were available. There are now many web accessibility evaluation tools available. These tools can help developers determine if their website is accessible to people with disabilities.

Finally, there are many companies that specialize in creating accessible websites. These companies, such as accessibe, can help developers create websites that meet all accessibility guidelines. (This example was given based on accessibe glassdoor reviews.)

FALSE: “There are no guidelines for website accessibility.”

Some essential resources for creating accessible websites include World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). These are organizations that have developed standards for accessibility that all web developers should follow. Access to these guidelines is made available online for free.

FALSE: “Accessibility doesn’t affect general user experiences.”

Accessibility positively impacts the overall website experience for all users by making the website available to a broader range of people, including those with disabilities. Cleaning up the user interface portions of the site makes it more viewable across devices. This can create a more diverse and inclusive online community and make the website more user-friendly for everyone. 

Bottom Line

Websites need to be accessible to be inclusive and allow everyone to have the same opportunities to access information and services. Accessibility is also essential for people with disabilities, as it can enable them to use a website more easily. There are many ways to make a website more accessible, including adding alt text to images, using clear and straightforward language, and providing transcripts of audio content.

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