(This article is about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website compliance requirements – 5-minute read.)
Last week I received a frantic email from one of my colleagues who runs a successful digital marketing agency here in town. It turned out that one of her clients was hit with a lawsuit because, get this, their website was not in compliance with ADA requirements.
She was freaking out. Then I started freaking out. Before you freak out, read on:
What Is ADA Website Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress in 1990 and was the first national law to address the needs of people with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination in employment, in public services (think special wheelchair access on city buses), public accommodations (handicapped restrooms, etc.), and telecommunications (closed captioning for the hearing impaired, for example).
According to the EEOC (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), the “ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.”
Well, a lot has changed in the years since the act was passed and it’s been updated to reflect some of these changes. The updates that impact websites is called Title III. Title III of the ADA requires businesses to maintain websites that are fully accessible (even to the blind!).
Friends, I dug and dug and dug and dug to find out if Title III covers every business website or only websites owned by companies who have 15 employees or more. I could not find one piece of content that clearly answered that question.
What I did find, however, was an excellent article in Business Journals titled, Is Your Business’s Website ADA Compliant? Now before your anxious link-clicking finger jumps over to that article, let me inform you that it doesn’t answer the question either!
But the author, Ana Crawford, who is an attorney with the law firm Porter Wright responded right away to my email. (Thank you, Ana!)
The Bottom Line
If your company has fewer than 15 employees you do not have to update your website. Of course, maybe your business would benefit from an update, making it accessible to an entirely new stream of customers who would be able to use your site who can’t now.
If you have 15 or more employees, your website must comply with ADA rules and it’s important that you have it updated immediately. Updating involves site layout, font sizes, color contrast, and more (there is a link below with details).
If you don’t have an in-house team, I recommend you hire a professional developer or agency with experience to perform the updates. I’ve been sending my clients to Michelle Hummel at Web Strategy Plus. Her team really knows what they’re doing when it comes to ADA compliance. Michelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For your convenience, here’s some of the information I found through my research so you don’t have to go digging:
- First-Of-Its-Kind Trial Goes Plaintiff’s Way; Winn-Dixie Must Update Website For The Blind (Forbes)
- EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) Facts About the ADA
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 – W3C Recommendation 05 June 2018
- WordPress Plugin for ADA Compliance, ADA Plugin – Approx. $300 for one site. I’ve heard this plugin scans and corrects problems but I haven’t tried it.
- wAlly WordPress Plugin – Free (my developer said it’s not bad). I believe this plugin indicates the problems so you can fix them manually.
I don’t profess to be an expert on all of this, so if you’re reading this article and have more information to share, or if my information is not correct, please let me know a.s.a.p.
It’s always something, right? ADA compliance must not be ignored if you have more than 15 employees. Schedule time with me below if you need help!
Thanks for reading!