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What is ADA?
Let’s learn from the experts at AccessiBe Check this video then you can read our Checklist.
Almost 61 million Americans live with some form of disability. That is almost 20% of our country’s population. Most eCommerce website owners and managers are unaware that their websites need to be accessible to everyone, without concern for their abilities.
Every year, thousands of ADA lawsuits, with some worth tens of millions of dollars or even more, are filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against websites. Surprisingly, a significant percentage of websites, including eCommerce websites, are still not in compliance with this law.
As ADA lawsuits continue to increase yearly, every online store must ensure ADA website compliance. This is important on many levels – meeting compliance requirements, making your website content accessible to a larger audience, and ensuring your business’s survival.
We at Blackbelt Commerce are your one-stop Shopify experts to help you with everything from the conceptualization of your eCommerce website to its creation, promotion, maintenance, and everything in between.
In its simplest form, your online store must accommodate all types of impairments. The content should be keyboard accessible. There should be text alternatives. And it should adhere to the WCAG guidelines. Any non-compliance with these ADA compliance guidelines for websites can place your business in a position open for legal action.
Does your website comply with the ADA? If not, this is the time to act.
A look at the following NAD Vs. Netflix case should give you an idea of how things can be if you fail to adhere to ADA compliance:
In 2012, Netflix was only a shadow of what it is now. The National Association for the Deaf (NAD) filed a lawsuit against the subscription-based streaming company. NAD’s claim was that the company failed to provide equal services for hearing loss or deafness users. The court ruling was that ADA guidelines for websites applied in the same way as for businesses that operated outside the web.
This was a new position in implementing ADA on online businesses. Since then more and more web-based businesses have been forced to comply with the law.
ADA Website Compliance Checklist
The ADA mandates that businesses must update their website or mobile app to make them accessible for individuals with disabilities. It is a civil rights law and was passed to protect people with disabilities from any form of discrimination in public life. It was passed in 1990.
In 2010, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) amended the law. The language in the Title III of the law was later amended to apply it to digital accessibility too.
What is the WCAG?
Here is a great video made by AccessiBe a company that we use to help Shopify store owners to get their ADA website compliance implemented.
When it comes to ADA compliance guidelines for websites, the DOJ uses the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a guide for websites. In 2018, new federal regulations were implemented to ensure that all websites must meet AA conformance within the WCAG 2.0.
The WCAG has become the standard to check the ADA guidelines for websites. At the same time, we also suggest going through a checklist with your creative web development agency.
The WCAG 2.0 is a technical web standard that provides ADA compliance guidelines for websites to measure the two key parameters of an accessible website:
It uses a unique approach that has been named ‘P.O.U.R.’.
So, the key tenets of your eCommerce store should be as follows:
Check if your content is readily perceivable. Your content must be usable by all. Users should easily navigate content on your website. This will require providing them with:
- Alt text
- Audio descriptions
Your website must be fully operable and there should be no glitches. There should be no problems for users in using your website. You must also address the different ways in which users will access or interact with your website’s features. For example, by using a keyboard or mouse.
The content on your website must be easy to understand for all users. The textual content must be easy to read and understand. There should be the use of logical language and functionality on the web pages.
This lays down the guidelines for your website’s code to follow the up-to-date web standards.
Latest Trends to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
In 2020, Congress introduced a new bill for digital accessibility. It paved the path for the release of WCAG 2.2 standards. Another change it brought was in the way the ADA website lawsuits could be filed. Such changes keep updating the best practices for ADA compliance.
Some of the latest best practices you should follow for your website are as follows:
- Audit and update your website to be fully ADA compliance for the websites checklist with WCAG 2.1 AA
- Get your website tested by users with disabilities and ensure it is free from any functional issues
- Ensure that automated WAVE and Axe scans deliver 0 errors
- Publish an online accessibility policy that lays down your strong commitment to ADA complaince
- Offer accessibility support and make it easy to provide feedback
- Continue monitoring and maintaining online accessibility
WCAG 2.2 has not yet been implemented and is expected to come into force by the Summer of 2021. Although 2.0 AA continues to be considered mostly as the point of reference, it is in your website’s best interest to become ADA complaint under WCAG 2.2.
When you comply with WCAG 2.2AA, it translates into:
- Increased website and app accessibility
- Demonstrates your greater commitment to ADA website compliance
Don’t wait any longer we have worked and implemented a number of ADA-compliant software that will prove your possible legal issues and fines.
Things to Know About ADA Website Lawsuits
There were 814 ADA web accessibility lawsuits in 2017. This number grew to 2,258 in 2018, which was an increase of 177%. The growth in the number of ADA website accessibility lawsuits maintained a steady growth into 2019. The Robles vs. Domino’s Pizza case drew the most attention in 2019.
Most of these ADA website compliance lawsuits have been about websites not working with screen reader software or lacking captions for videos. According to a February 2020 WebAIM report, 98.1% of the leading 1 million websites had their home pages failing WCAG 2.0 standards. This is a big concern for most eCommerce stores, as this simply means that most websites, including yours, may be vulnerable to potential lawsuits.
ADA web accessibility lawsuits along with demand letters have continued to show an uptick in Florida, New York, and California despite the general slowdown in Federal lawsuits during the lock-downs. State-filed ADA website accessibility lawsuits have shown such a fast rate of growth that they are more than making up for the decline in growth in Federal cases.
The following sectors are most likely to face ADA complaince lawsuits under ADA Title III websites and apps:
- Food-service industry
Businesses that need to make regular updates and code changes to their websites are most vulnerable to these lawsuits.
Takeaways from ADA Website Compliance Lawsuits
Some of the first important steps you should take to prevent any potential ADA website lcomliance awsuits are as follows:
1. Use Testing Tools
Use accessibility testing tools and make sure to take care of all the common issues. Such tools will present a report that shows issues most commonly cited in lawsuits. If you are concerned about the expenses of web redesign, you should know that these issues are easier to fix than getting into a legal tussle.
Automatic accessibility testing tools can quickly detect any issues. Many such issues can be readily fixed by just inserting some text.
Many websites facing ADA web copoliance accessibility lawsuits mostly lack these features:
- Redundant links
- Alt-text for graphics
- Empty links with no text
2. Take Proactive Steps
Websites are prone to face one or more suits due to the non-compliance of ADA. Your website is open to suits even when it is undergoing an update. The Market vs. Five Guys Enterprises lawsuit is a good example of this.
Being proactive is a good way to prevent any legal action.
- Test your website early.
- Fix all issues.
- Test regularly as you keep adding content or making changes.
Consider the example of a brick-and-mortar store. You will not open it unless you have ensured it is fully ADA compliant. Your website should also follow the same rule.
3. Never Try to Work Around ADA Website Compliance
It has been commonly seen in these lawsuits that businesses try to get around the ADA website compliance requirements. And all of them have only failed with this attempt.
Some of the common arguments included:
- Not operating a physical space.
- Website not being an important part of the business.
- Equal services are offered elsewhere.
These arguments have consistently failed to hold up in courtrooms. Instead of trying to get around the problem, you should address it. You will save money, time, and energy. Besides, having an ADA-compatible website will also add to your business’s public image.
To business owners that use websites, web accessibility and the relevant accessibility laws may seem to be too confusing. It is best to comply with the laws not just to avoid lawsuits. It will also open up your website to more visitors. You should get started with the ADA compliance checklist for websites. You will be surprised how simple it can be to comply with this law.
ADA Website Compliance Checklist for 2022
According to the ADA, web accessibility should have the following elements:
Braille display that can be refreshed.
And a series of other elements meant for usability and accessibility.
The law has also compiled a toolkit that you can review to ensure ADA website complaince. Some of the common issues that could be a barrier for users with disabilities include:
- Documents in inaccessible formats
- Images with no text equivalents
- Videos and multimedia without any ADA accessible features
- Specific font sizes and colors
Further, you must identify any other barriers that may prevent users with disabilities from accessing your website.
Do you have a website that doesn’t yet comply with ADA standards? You should strategize and create a plan to make it accessible for all kinds of users. Here is a list of ADA compliance for websites checklist that you should follow:
- Your staff should be trained on the latest ADA website compatible If you cannot keep up-to-date with this practice, make sure your web design agency does.
- Users must be able to become part of the user experience (UX). This will require you to ask your users to go give input on improving accessibility. A good idea is to create an area for users to share their thoughts.
- Every time content changes are made, changes should be made to alt tags of images.
- Reach out to local disability rights bodies to provide feedback on the content, services, and UX on your website.
- Let your website visitors know that your website is currently undergoing changes to adhere to the ADA rules.
Also keep in mind that your website must offer alternative methods to access your services and information offered on your website.
Ensuring Your eCommerce Website is ADA-Compliant
When it comes to making your website ADA complaint, you don’t h to make all the changes yourself. There are resources that can make it easy, quick, and affordable to have your eCommerce website accessible to everyone. The best way is to get the help of a web design agency. Not all agencies have an in-depth understanding of web accessibility. Only a few handfuls of agencies can create or update your website to meet ADA compliance.
Such an agency will follow a number of tips to create or update a compliant website.
1. Consider Your Users’ Needs
At Blackbelt Commerce, we will consider the specific needs of users with disabilities. There are users with different types of special needs. To begin with, you must make your website content accessible to users who are visually or hearing impaired.
There are users who navigate the web through voice. You can design or update your website to address their needs too.
- Make sure the text is readily accessible to visually impaired readers.
- Build a screen reader into your online store. This will help users to read the text if they use Braille.
- Add text transcripts for visual content.
Keep in mind that users with vision impairment will need alternative ways to comprehend the content.
Make sure to clearly define your website’s language. This is simple to do and can make a lot of difference. This can be helpful for users that use text readers to access the web. Once they know the language your website is in, they can make better use of the text reader.
2. Address Usability, User Control & Other Elements
When you follow the ADA checklist, make sure to address the fine details of ADA website accessibility.
Every section in your eCommerce store must have multiple points of access. Users with ALS often use their eyes as a cursor. Make sure your website has an on-screen keyboard to let them fill out a form. Let your users know that there are more ways than the keyboard to input data.
Provide a search field. Let users search quickly for information and access it. Add a site map to your eCommerce store. This will inform them where they can find other products or information on your store.
Make your content easily reADAble for your visitors. Let them zoom in on all the content. In fact, your users should be able to zoom your website’s size by up to 200%. It should still be clearly reADAble.
It is also important to show the information with a hyperlink. It will be best to inform where a link will redirect to. All hyperlinks must have these features:
- In italics
- In bold
- In a different color
Another important aspect of ADA compliance is to maintain consistency in design. You may underline a text to denote a hyperlink. Avoid underlining any text to emphasize that it is important.
There should be consistency in both layout and indications. This will help make your eCommerce store accessible to more users.
iii. User Control
ECommerce stores tend to have popups for new product launches or special offers. If you cannot avoid them, give your users the option to control them.
Try to avoid any automatic element. This includes no videos playing automatically or your website’s looks changing without giving them prior information.
There will be sections on an online store that time out. Keep in mind that users with special needs and even those without can take longer to complete activities. Give them control over such changes.
You will have visitors that use assistive devices to browse your eCommerce website. Use nested headings to help them better understand your content’s structure and outline.
Use color only as a design element. Avoid using it to help comprehend the content. If color is used to convey meaning, provide an alternative. Else, you should explain it.
When it comes to the forms, they must be easy to fill out. A simple form is the best design concept.
- It must clearly define the required information.
- If must clearly point out errors.
- It must also help users understand how to fix those errors.
Use labels to make visual elements useful for your visitors. One of the important components in ADA compliance for websites checklist is to keep your code free of errors.
3. Offer Quality Customer Service
Offering help to users, both with and without special needs, can improve customer satisfaction. Every time a user on your online store seems to struggle with navigation, your website must offer help to them. There should be options for them to skip navigation and use other methods to find the required information.
Give your online shoppers different ways to get in touch with you. Allow them to contact you by phone, live chat, email, or even mail.
When you want to accommodate people with disabilities, keep in mind that your customer service team has a lot to learn from them. Consider the following example.
People who are deaf can often send emails asking you to call them. When your customer service team will call them, the customer can take your calls using a hearing-impaired communication service. The service will type messages that can be read by the customer. The customer can then type messages back which will be read to your team member over the phone.
There are many such new technologies and services that can allow your customers to communicate with your business. This makes it so much more important for your customer service team to learn about your potential customers with special needs and the technologies available to them.
Many people with disabilities have found new ways to communicate and ADApt. Your business should know about these ways and be ready to provide your services when they need them.
Business Benefits of an ADA Compliant eCommerce Store
Everyone deserves a satisfactory online UX. Creating an online store that is accessible to everyone is the ri
ght thing to do. The web has become an integral part of everyone’s lives. And this includes people with disabilities.
There are direct and noticeable business benefits of creating an ADA compatible website.
1. Increased Sales
As already mentioned, there are almost 61 million American adults with some form of disability. There are over 1.5 billion such people on the planet. An accessible eCommerce store means you can reach more people and this means more sales.
2. A More Usable Website
When you have an eCommerce website that is easy to read and navigate, it benefits everyone – not just people with special needs. Thus, your efforts towards ADA website compliance will make your online store more usable. There are even more benefits of adhering to the WCAG:
- Greater speed
- Lesser fatigue
- Faster learning curve
- Fewer errors
This can further help increase the amount of time your visitors spend on your online store.
3. Improve Your Website’s SEO
When you follow the ADA compliance guidelines, you will also be following SEO best practices. The following WCAG guidelines also double as best SEO practices:
- Alt text for images
- Meta tags
- Video transcripts
- Image captions
- Link anchor text
- Header tags
4. Embrace Innovative Technology
The latest innovative design methodologies and technologies have made it easier to develop eCommerce websites adhering to ADA checklist. For example, the use of cascading style sheets (CSS) makes it easier to implement dynamic concepts. They also enable flexible content use.
5. Avoid Lawsuits
As already mentioned, the rate of growth in the number of cases of ADA web accessibility lawsuits is simply staggering. When you comply with the WCAG guidelines, you will be protecting your business from expensive ADA lawsuits.
When you create an ADA compliant website, you are simply doing the right thing for your eCommerce store and the world.
How Can We Help?
At Blackbelt Commerce, we do much more than just creating functional and elegant eCommerce stores. We also use systems and services that have transformed web accessibility. We rely on automated, AI technologies to replace time-consuming and costly manual processes.
Some of the key features of our service to help you achieve ADA website compliance are as follows:
Automatically Adjusting Screen-Readers
The use of image recognition and contextual understanding helps scan and analyze the functions of every element on your eCommerce store. These elements are then adjusted for screen reader access. This includes:
- Icons and buttons
- Alt attributes
- Forms and validations
- State controls
- Roles and landmarks
- ARIA attributes
- Our AI-based system will scale and analyze your online store.
- Your website will become accessible and ADA complaint within 48 hours.
- The AI will scan for new content every 24 hours to ensure continuous website accessibility compliance efforts
This helps prevent the need for you to manually test your website and prevent any chances of ADA website lawsuits.
Protection from Litigation
The following practices help protect your business from potential litigation:
- ADA and WCAG compliance
- Ongoing compliance with latest web accessibility regulations
- Certification and statement
- Daily compliance monitoring
- 24-hour automatic scans of updated content
And monthly accessibility audits.
Our website accessibility compliance services are customizable and can readily ADApt to your eCommerce website’s design.
We at Blackbelt Commerce are your one-stop Shopify experts and can help ensure ADA compliance for your online store. WCAG and ADA website compliance is an ongoing process and we use a service that helps you take proactive steps to prevent any potential litigation. Are you uncertain whether your website is ADA compliant or not? If you want to discuss your ecommerce store with us or need more information about our services, feel free to contact us today. Call us at 516-704-9890 and speak to one of our experts. You may also write to us at [email protected] and we will get back to you at the earliest.
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