Ensuring Inclusivity Online: The Necessity of ADA Website Compliance

The Necessity of ADA Website Compliance

Ensuring Inclusivity Online

Websites serve as gateways to information, services, and products for people around the world. However, among website content and design, it’s important not to overlook a fundamental aspect: accessibility.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to ensure equal access and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. While the ADA primarily focuses on physical accommodations, its scope has more recently expanded to encompass digital spaces as well, with specific guidelines on how to make websites accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities.

Beyond the moral and ethical obligations of making your website accessible, there are significant legal considerations to bear in mind—as well as tangible benefits to your SEO and organic traffic.

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What is ADA Compliance for Websites?

ADA compliance for websites refers to making your online content accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. Some common examples of accessibility features include alt text on images or audio files or transcripts for audio- and video-only content.

Why Should Your Website Be ADA-Compliant?

Beyond ensuring your website is accessible to the widest audience possible and ensuring equity among users, here are two key reasons your website should be ADA-compliant:

Improved SEO and Increased Organic Traffic

Search engines favor websites that provide an excellent user experience. Accessibility improvements, such as alternative text for images, proper use of headings, and easily navigable site structure, aren’t just beneficial for users with disabilities—they also enhance the overall quality of your site. Thus, ADA compliance indirectly benefits your site’s SEO and can potentially lead to higher search rankings and increased visibility.

According to SEMRush, websites that adhere to ADA compliance guidelines often see a boost in organic traffic. A study conducted in collaboration with AccessibilityChecker.org and BuiltWith analyzed over 800 websites and discovered that 73.4% of domains experienced increased organic traffic after implementing accessibility solutions, with an average growth of 12%.

This data underscores the increasing risk businesses face if their websites are not ADA-compliant. With the rise in litigations, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of web accessibility, not just from a moral standpoint but also to avoid potentially costly legal challenges. Beyond legal and financial consequences, the reputational damage from failing to make a website accessible can substantially affect customer trust and loyalty.

Legal Risk Mitigation

The legal landscape around digital accessibility has been evolving rapidly. In 2023, UsableNet reported a total of 4,605 lawsuits filed over web accessibility issues, with 3,086 of these being federal lawsuits and 1,519 at the state level.

While Accessibility.com reported a slightly lower number (a total of 2,281 lawsuits), it’s clear that this issue is receiving significant attention. Compared to the previous year, Accessibility.com found a slight 4% drop in lawsuits in 2023 over 2022, which is consistent with the ongoing trend. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, one of the nation’s top law firms, provided a middle ground with 3,255 lawsuits reported.

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Navigating the Future of ADA Compliance

The trend towards greater enforcement and awareness of ADA compliance suggests that the future will bring even stricter regulations and higher expectations for digital accessibility. Moreover, as public awareness of accessibility issues grows, consumers are increasingly favoring businesses that prioritize inclusivity and accessibility. This shift in consumer behavior underscores the importance of adopting accessible web practices not only to meet legal requirements but also to align with shifts in market expectations and societal values.

At Zenergy Works, we recognize ADA compliance as an evolving consideration for websites and are committed to helping you navigate it effectively. We’ll be following up with you in the first quarter of 2024 to discuss ADA compliance standards and will require you to acknowledge the risk of an ADA compliance suit if you choose not to have Accessible or an equivalent service. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at (707) 360-1402.

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