It’s no secret that commerce has been increasingly shifting to the online marketplace. If you’re a business owner and you operate a website where you regularly conduct e-commerce, it’s important to understand that even your company’s page is subject to compliance standards outlined in the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
Digital accessibility is easy to overlook since most of us presume ADA regulatory standards only apply to your business’s physical environment. However, with 20% of the population attesting to some form of disability, ADA digital compliance is a key consideration to make note of as you grow your online presence.
The ADA already requires compliance for all websites that provide government services. This is because official government services must necessarily provide access to all individuals, irrespective of ones’ ability. The ADA’s digital accessibility requirements in sections 504 and 508 on the Department of Human Services website.
An act introduced more than 30 years ago, the ADA was designed to specifically prohibit various forms of discrimination, particularly in employment and government settings. The ADA’s guidelines primarily apply to public spaces such as parking lots, elevators, along with a building's entrances and interiors.
In January 2017 the ADA introduced new regulations for web accessibility, later effectuated in 2018. These new rules pose many of the same obstacles to businesses as the act did when it was first introduced over thirty years ago. While it might seem impossible to remain 100% compliant, utilizing a free online ADA compliance checker is a good place to start with your assessment.
Your company page is primarily a visual medium, so you should pay close attention to its presentation while keeping in mind those who are visually impaired. Try to avoid the use of small fonts that are light in color. Similarly, ensure that you are using alt tags that describe the various elements of your website so they can be read aloud by accessibility tools and utilize captions on your videos for those with hearing limitations.
Perhaps the best way to bring your site to compliance if finding an understanding of how your disabled customers navigate the Web. Foremost, those with visual impairments use screen readers to read the text audibly. Brail keyboards are also commonly used, and those with physical impairments often utilize a hands-free mouse which is controlled by speaking commands. A good understanding of these tools is a reliable way to avert a potential conflict with those who use them.
Experts at AudioEye are keen to point out that “a website that is not accessible increases the legal exposure to a potential accessibility lawsuit.” Fundamentally, it’s good practice to ensure your website is accessible to everyone. This ultimately enhances your potential customer base. With that said, keeping on top of ADA compliance within your digital marketplace protects against the prospects of defending a costly accessibility claim.
Indeed, strict ADA compliance won’t be easy at first. It’s important to start adhering to the ADA’s standards early. Should you find this task beyond your scope, don’t hesitate to engage an automated ADA compliance checker tool such as the one offered by AudioEye.