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ADA Compliance in the Digital Age

When it comes to your business, what do you think of when you hear the term “ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliance?” If you are like most, handicap-accessible bathrooms or entry ramps probably come to mind first. What is most likely overlooked is your company’s website. That’s about to change.

Ensuring that all customers have access to the same level of service, regardless of their physical limitations will soon apply to websites as well. In a recent ruling, the Department of Justice (DOJ) specifically stated websites should also be designed so they are accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing or physical disabilities.

So what does that mean and how does it apply to your business?

While still in development, the DOJ will be issuing formal guidelines and rulemaking for website accessibility. These guidelines are expected sometime in 2018. That means, if a business is considered “a place of public accommodation” (i.e. you conduct or transact business with the public through websites and mobile applications) now is the time to think about how ADA compliant your website is and take steps to make your business more accessible to clients or customers.

Why this matters to your business now?

Unfortunately, private businesses and financial institutions are already facing increasing scrutiny for their websites to be ADA compliant. While not officially a law yet, private lawsuits have been brought against businesses who are not in compliance and business owners should be proactively planning so as to limit immediate liability risk.

So now what?

As an initial starting place, spend time getting up to speed on the status of forthcoming regulations and understanding the ramifications of past settlements. Additionally, you can begin reviewing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The majority of these guidelines involve ensuring text, video and audio features on your website are clear and easy to understand for those with or without disabilities. Many of the recommended guidelines are already standard website best practices, but others may require adjustments to your existing site.

While at first blush the guidelines may seem extensive, the first step is to ensure your website is in regulation with these ADA guidelines and a third-party consultant can help. Beginning with a thorough website audit, an agency or consultant with an extensive understanding of the recommended guidelines, can determine what your site may be lacking and structure a plan to bring your business into compliance.

When it comes to the potential impact the ADA Compliance guidelines may have on your business, we also recommend consulting with your legal council. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide a solid base from which to work, however, consulting with your company’s attorney will help ensure you are protected.

Concerned about your website and looking for more insight into whether your business is ADA compliant? Contact us today.