Skip to content Skip to footer

Everything to Know about ADA Compliance

Everything to know about ADA Compliance

Discover Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance essentials, including legal requirements, accessibility standards, website adjustments, and the benefits of creating an inclusive online experience for all users.
Web accessibility encompasses a collection of rules, practices, code standards, and design guidelines aimed at ensuring the effective use of websites by people with disabilities, who make up roughly 20% of the global population. It is crucial that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can fully enjoy and engage with your website, thereby fostering a more inclusive and equitable online experience for all users.

What is the ADA?

Back in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established as the primary U.S. legislation to protect the civil rights and accessibility of individuals with disabilities. After a two-year campaign led by disability activists to fight discrimination against people with disabilities, this law was enacted, prohibiting discrimination based on disability or ability. 

The ADA, which was inspired by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, goes beyond protecting disabled individuals within government entities, and also aims to ensure equal opportunities for them in public life. This means that they should have access to employment, goods, and services, giving them the same chances as everyone else.

What are the ADA Implications for Businesses?

The ADA requires businesses to make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination against them. 

For businesses, this means they must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, such as modifying workstations or providing assistive technology, to ensure equal opportunities.

They must also provide accessible facilities, including entrances, restrooms, and parking, for customers with disabilities.

Who needs to be ADA compliant?

Businesses of every size and variety must adhere to ADA legislation for both customers and employees if they employ more than 15 workers. This includes entertainment venues, eateries, large corporations, small to medium enterprises, retail shops, government agencies, and employment services, among others.

How does the ADA affect websites?

With the rise of the internet and digital platforms in business-consumer relationships, there has been a shift in how the ADA is interpreted when it comes to online accessibility. In 2017, it was agreed upon by disability rights advocates, legal authorities, and judicial outcomes that the ADA extends to digital platforms like websites and online marketplaces, meaning they must be designed to cater to users with disabilities.

This means that websites should be created and maintained with the unique needs of users with various disabilities in mind, such as visual, auditory, cognitive, and physical impairments. To achieve this, websites need to adhere to specific accessibility guidelines and principles.

By meeting ADA requirements, websites can foster a more inclusive and accessible experience for a wider range of users while also mitigating the risk of legal issues and potential penalties associated with non-compliance.

What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility aims to create websites that are accessible to everyone, including the 20% of the global population who have disabilities. This is achieved by following specific design principles, coding standards, and rules that cater to the diverse needs of people with disabilities. 

To guide website accessibility, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). These guidelines have been incorporated into various legislations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 508, and EN 301549. By adhering to these guidelines, businesses can ensure that their websites are accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

The guidelines emphasize three key areas:
Ultimately, web accessibility aims to ensure that all internet content is universally accessible and user-friendly for everyone, covering auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.

Key U.S. Laws and Guidelines for Web Accessibility

In the United States, there are several laws and guidelines that address web accessibility. Some of the key ones include:


By designing with accessibility in mind, we are designing for our friends, families and futures selves.” – Alistair Duggin, Principal Accessibility Specialist at Tetra Logical   

Significant Legal Impact of ADA Lawsuits

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of ADA lawsuits in recent years, highlighting the growing recognition of the importance of web accessibility. To avoid legal risks and promote an inclusive online environment, businesses and web agencies must prioritize compliance with accessibility guidelines. This includes implementing accessible design, providing staff training, and conducting regular accessibility audits to proactively identify and address potential issues.

Unfortunately, many of the ADA-related lawsuits target small to medium-sized businesses, resulting in severe consequences, substantial fines, or penalties. In the US, the average settlement for an ADA lawsuit is $35,000, which can be a significant financial burden for SMBs.

It’s essential to recognize that any company can face an ADA lawsuit if someone with disabilities encounters difficulties accessing their website. Even high-profile organizations like Greyhound and Domino’s Pizza have experienced losses in ADA-related lawsuits. This emphasizes the need for all businesses, regardless of size, to be aware of and adhere to accessibility guidelines to avoid costly penalties for ADA violations.

How to Prevent an ADA Non-Compliance Lawsuit

To minimize the risk of an ADA violation lawsuit, businesses should prioritize accessibility and inclusivity in their website design and content. By taking proactive steps, organizations can not only avoid potential legal issues but also provide a better user experience for everyone.
By implementing these measures, your business can reduce the risk of ADA violation lawsuits, improve the online experience for users with disabilities, and potentially enhance SEO performance.

Google's Dedication to Inclusive Accessibility

As the digital world moves towards web accessibility, Google, being the face of the internet, recognizes the importance of making websites accessible to everyone. Google has taken measures to improve accessibility across its products and services and has even introduced an accessibility score – on PageSpeed Insights – for websites. 

The goal of these initiatives is to foster an inclusive user experience for everyone, irrespective of their abilities. Key aspects of Google’s accessibility efforts include:

By focusing on accessibility, Google aims to establish an inclusive environment that accommodates the diverse needs of its users, ensuring everyone can enjoy the benefits of Google’s products and services. Websites are required to maintain accessibility, as failing to do so may adversely affect their SEO ranking.

How does the ADA affect SEO?

Web accessibility and SEO are strongly correlated, especially in terms of user experience, which is a crucial factor in website ranking. 

By adhering to ADA accessibility guidelines, websites can improve the user experience for people with disabilities. This can lead to increased engagement, lower bounce rates, and longer dwell times, all of which can positively impact website ranking.

Such improvements indicate to search engines that the website is valuable to its users, potentially resulting in higher search rankings. Search engines such as Google prioritize accessible and user-friendly websites and include accessibility as a factor in their search algorithms.

Failure to comply with ADA standards may lead to lower ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) compared to accessible websites. Moreover, ADA compliance can improve the overall quality of the website’s code and structure, facilitating search engines to crawl and index content more accurately, thereby increasing visibility in search results. Therefore, ensuring ADA accessibility standards are met can improve both user experience and SEO of the website.

By adhering to ADA requirements, SEO can experience a significant boost and improve the website’s structure and crawlability. Several ways in which ADA compliance enhances SEO are as follows:

It is crucial for businesses to prioritize website accessibility to avoid compromising their hard-earned SEO efforts. SEO insiders suggest that accessibility is already, or will soon become, a major ranking factor in search engine algorithms. Google currently monitors accessibility as a key metric, reinforcing the need for companies to ensure their websites adhere to accessibility guidelines.

Conclusion

In conclusion, ADA compliance is crucial for businesses looking to create a more inclusive online environment. By following ADA accessibility guidelines, businesses can ensure that their websites are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

This leads to a better user experience, increased engagement, and improved website ranking. Additionally, ADA compliance is a legal requirement in the US, and failure to comply can result in significant financial penalties and damage to a company’s reputation.

By prioritizing ADA compliance, businesses can create a more welcoming and inclusive online community, benefiting everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.