July Is the Perfect Month to Make Your Website ADA-Compliant
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July Is the Perfect Month to Make Your Website ADA-Compliant
Kate Gingold
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July Is the Perfect Month to Make Your Website ADA-Compliant

Are you following the discussion about websites complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act? July is Disability Pride Month, so now is a great time to talk about whys and hows!

What is Disability Pride Month?

Disability Pride Month happens in July to honor the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. This civil rights law is much like previous civil rights acts which dealt with religion, race, and similar, but specifically prohibits discrimination based on disability.

In Chicago, the Disability Pride Parade takes place on July 20, culminating in a festival at Daley Plaza. The Los Angeles parade doesn’t happen until October, but in nearby Long Beach, the Disability Pride flag will be flying at city hall. Many other activities will take place throughout the country as well.

What does this have to do with websites?

By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the installation of ramps and elevators that make public places accessible to people with physical challenges. However, society still lags in websites that are accessible to people with visual and fine motor challenges. And when you think of how much of day-to-day life is spent online, you can see why this is a problem.

The World Health Organization estimates over 1.3 billion people are living with disability today. Now your business might not serve the whole world, but there are about 42.5 million Americans with disabilities, and some of those people your local business does serve. Of those 42.5 million Americans, 12% are adults ages 35 to 64 and 46% are adults ages 75 and older.

That’s a lot of people, people who are your employees, your customers, and your advocates. We have written about website accessibility before, but it’s important to remind ourselves why accessible websites are needed. For instance, if you and your eyes are over forty, you may already be experiencing frustration in reading fine print. Why frustrate your visually impaired customers with a hard-to-read website?

Are there rules for ADA-compliant websites?

The Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990 and was amended in 2008 to be divided into five titles. Title I deals with employment, Title II deals with public services, and Title III deals with public accommodations. Title IV is specific to telecommunications and Title V is a general catch-all for other provisions. Websites are not called out explicitly but fall under Title II if the site is for a public entity and under Title III if it is a private entity.

While originally designed for physical accessibility, the minimum standards now also apply to websites to “remove barriers,” “make reasonable modifications,” and “communicate effectively with customers with vision, hearing, and speech disabilities.” Most businesses, not-for-profits, and public services are required to meet the minimum standards.

Just this past April, new rules for government entities were passed, and keeping up with the law updates is one of the difficulties in achieving compliance. Other issues include effort and cost which means a business might have to prioritize which aspects they’ll bring into compliance first while postponing others.

Why should my website be ADA-compliant?

The obvious reason is because it’s the right thing to do, but there are less altruistic reasons as well.

This probably won’t surprise you, but there are bottom-feeders whose business model is searching out non-compliant websites and then suing. You are less likely to be targeted if you make the effort to bring your website into compliance.

There are three generally accepted levels of compliance. Level AAA is the highest and Level A is the lowest. As we said before, sometimes you have to prioritize, so achieving Level A now with the intent to improve might be a reasonable plan. As an extra incentive, many of the easiest fixes also improve your SEO!

How can my website become compliant?

The best way is to build your site with compliance in mind, but if you aren’t ready to start fresh, you can still improve on your current site.

One technique that many businesses rely on is a toolbar installed on your current website that makes modifications as needed by the user. The toolbar doesn’t require big changes to your site’s code, and since it is a service, updates are automatic when the requirements change like they did in April. We discussed the options more fully a few months ago, if you'd like a review.

What’s my next step?

If you aren’t sure if your website is ADA-compliant or not, we offer a free audit to show you where your site is failing. We can also help you decide on the best strategy for becoming compliant, work out a prioritization plan, and explain possible solutions and services. Contact us today to get started.

Photo by Rosenfeld Media

 

 

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Kate Gingold

Kate GingoldKate Gingold

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

Other posts by Kate Gingold
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I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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