What is ADA Compliance?
ADA in this form is an acronym for the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. The ADA was enacted in 1990 to provide a “clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.”
It is a civil law that mandates the inclusion of all people in all areas of public life – including websites. Simply stated, being ADA compliant broadly means that your business website must be accessible to those with disabilities.
Title III of the ADA states that:
“No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”
Although the language of the original act does not appear to apply to websites, we must remember it was passed in 1990, when websites were not a way of life like they are now. In recent years, the U.S. The Department of Justice, Congress, and the courts have considered expanding the language of the ADA to expressly sanction website equal access claims.
In addition, there has been a substantial increase in lawsuits being filed against websites for ADA compliance in the past years. There are several lawsuits with larger name corporations which are driving the complexity of the issue. And, the confusion around the area is leaving it open to scare-tactics by unscrupulous attorneys.
Some Notable ADA Cases:
- Robles v. Dominos: Started in 2014, Robles claimed that Domino’s website was inaccessible as Robles, being blind, was unable to order a pizza the same way a sighted person would.
- Loadholt v. HSN, Inc. : Loadholt claims HSN is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not making its website fully accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals.
- Brown v. Grocery Delivery E-Services USA, Inc. (HelloFresh): Brown claims that HelloFresh does not provide a shopping experience for people who use screen reading software.
- Vergara v. Kohl’s: Vergara claims the Kohl’s website is not available to blind and visually impared users.
Why Does My Site Need to Be ADA Compliant?
Firstly, because it is a civil law, as discussed above. And while the act itself continues to be broadened and clarified as the use of websites grows, it should be adhered to. Additionally, a professional service such as a lawyer should strive to include all people who need legal services – even those with disabilities.
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How Do I Tell If My Law Website is ADA Compliant?
There are a number of tools available ranging from free, to paid, that will help to show you if your site is in compliance. They typically scan your website and provide you with recommendations. Our recommendation to begin with is Wave: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. It will help identify what you need to fix to become compliant.
How Do I Fix My Law Firm Website So It Is ADA Compliant?
After running a scanning tool such as Wave, the next step is to then fix what has been flagged. This can range from very simple fixes, to more complex solutions. The IT business or Agency you work with may have some knowledge of how to apply the corrections. If you’re unsure, contact the team at TheeDigital to help. We have a deep knowledge-base on how to apply ADA compliance fixes. Being ADA compliant can be confusing on the surface, but with the help of agency such as TheeDigital, it’s easy.
ADA Compliant Website Checklist
Below is a brief checklist of some of the more common ADA requirements that are easily implemented in most websites.
- Alt Tags: Alt tags are a few words or brief phrases assigned to images. Screen readers are able to describe pictures, videos and audio files for visually-impaired users. Because they are search engine friendly, alt tags are also used in internet marketing. Below is an example alt tag:
- Text Transcript: Similar to alt tags, text transcripts are transcriptions of videos or audio files specifically implemented for hearing-impaired users. Hearing loss is quite common and law firms should consider using text transcripts whenever necessary.
- Contrasting Colors: Foreground and background colors must adhere to a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. Colors without this ratio can be difficult or impossible for visually impared users to distinguish between. We recommend using a tool such as https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/
- Label Form Fields: Forms are an important communication tool for any law firm website. If form fields are not labeled properly, disabled users may not know what information to place inside the fields. Be clear, and always utilize labels outside of the fields.
- Keyboard Navigation: Users with disabilities may not use a mouse to navigate and instead, rely on their keyboard. Because of this, you must ensure your law firm website can be navigated entirely without a mouse. Below are some keys which are commonly used to navigate with a keyboard.
- Esc to cancel an action or leave a window
- Tab to move between tabs in a browser
- Backspace to return to the previous page
- The arrow keys to move around a page
These are just a few high level solutions to reach ADA compliance. They may or may not make your website 100% ADA compliant, but they will certainly improve the user experience for visitors with disabilities and may help deter potential lawsuits.