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When people think of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), what comes to mind are thoughts of physical accommodations like wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and sign language interpreters, and when public buildings and workplaces don’t have these things, they can be sued. 

In 2022 alone, nearly 8,700 lawsuits were filed under Title III of the ADA. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, any state or local government or business open to the public must comply with the law or face the possibility of the same fate, but what many online business owners are not aware of is the fact that the same goes for their websites.

Laws and Guidelines Governing Website Accessibility

The ADA requires that all businesses open to the public provide “full and equal enjoyment” of their goods and services to people with disabilities.

As the main legislation governing accessibility compliance for online businesses, the ADA requires that all businesses open to the public provide “full and equal enjoyment” of their goods and services to people with disabilities; that includes communication aids and services where appropriate. 

The ADA offers businesses some flexibility in how they comply, and the DOJ provides guidance in the form of technical standards to help online business owners make the appropriate adjustments. These include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards currently adhered to by federal government websites.

However, it’s important to note that these standards change often, and some have even been updated to cover new technologies like virtual and augmented reality. Therefore, the best way to ensure your website remains in compliance is to consult a tech law attorney for help.

Five Ways You Can Work Toward ADA Compliance for Your Online Business

According to the WCAG, you need to ensure your content aligns with several characteristics.

ADA website compliance covers many aspects of your web design and accommodative features. According to the WCAG, you need to ensure your content aligns with several characteristics. These are as follows:

  • Be perceivable through touch, sight, and sound
  • Be operable through keyboard-online navigation
  • Be understandable (appear and function predictably)
  • Include robust HTML and CSS code that works with assistive technologies

Below are five ways that you can get on the path toward creating such a website to help visitors with disabilities enjoy the full range of your content:

1. Keyboard Navigation

Allow for keyboard navigation for users who are unable to operate a mouse. “Enter” and “Escape” should be able to open and close menus, respectively, and “Tab” should allow users to move between the various elements on a single page.

2. Alt Tags

Don’t forget to include alt tags for all multimedia content, including pictures, videos, and audio files. If a person cannot view the content, the tag will provide them with a description of it that they can read or hear.

3. Website Forms

Ensure that any forms use visual cues to show when someone needs to enter information into a field. Use screen readers to indicate invalid entries and return the user to the invalid field should there be a submission error.

4. Content Transcription

Transcribe video and audio elements for those who may be deaf or hard of hearing to allow them to enjoy the content through another format.

5. Better Organization

When all else fails, offer a more organized layout. You can use headings and labels for all content and ensure that all buttons, links, and even menus are clearly defined and delineated.

Don’t Walk the Compliance Road Alone

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s “just a website.”

In owning an online business, it’s vital that you don’t let anyone tell you it’s “just a website.” If even one customer can patronize your website, you must ensure that all potential customers can do the same, regardless of their disability status. 

Lancaster Tech Law has a great deal of experience helping business owners in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area stay in compliance with the technical aspects of their business. Contact our attorneys today to learn more about keeping your business out of harm’s way and on the right track.