ADA Compliance and Accessibility
in the Digital World
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, the Internet was spelled with a capital “I” because it was only one particular way of a few different avenues available for browsing the brand new territory of the world wide web. The internet as we know it today, was not yet an established and integral part of everyday American life.
Old World ADA vs New Digital World ADA
When the ADA was established, it was done so to provide disabled people access to public spaces and places. This was done by ensuring that they were provided with such things as handicap parking, wheelchair ramps, wheelchair accessible doors, braille on elevator buttons, devices to assist the visually or hearing impaired, etc. When the ADA was being developed, not many people would have predicted that the internet was going to be as much a part of our daily lives as it currently is. Yet, much of what the ADA says about compliance and accessibility for your more traditional, physical world, can be applied to our new digital world.
Nowadays, many people spend much of their time in the digital world even though they may be at work, at school or at home, or almost anywhere, while doing this. With more and more people spending more and more time connected to the digital world, it is becoming increasingly important for websites to meet the same accessibility standards as our more traditional public spaces and places are required to do.
There are many different reasons to be ADA compliant in the digital world and there are many different factors to consider when updating your website to make it accessible to all people, regardless of their dis/abilities.
Website Accessibility, the Law and Lawsuits
While ADA regulations haven’t been updated specifically for websites, advocates of the ADA feel that as the law is already written, website accessibility is included and required. In the past several years, many lawsuits have been filed that allege that company websites are not accessible to the blind and that this is in violation of Title III of the ADA. Many websites have been under fire because they contain content that is not accessible to the deaf and hearing impaired, as well as those that contain content that is not accessible to people who are unable to control a mouse and/or keyboard.
Accessibility for All is Good for Everyone
Regardless of the ADA, having a website that is more accessible to more people is good for everyone. Not only is it just a decent thing to try to make sure that a person’s dis/abilities do not exclude them from being able to participate in things that a majority of a population participates in, it likely makes it easier for everyone to have greater access to it.
The more people that have access to a website, the more likely it is people will visit it. The easier a website is to navigate, the more likely it is that visitors will stay to explore it.
If you have a business website that you want to attract potential customers to and make it easy for them to use to navigate your products or services, making sure it is ADA compliant will not only make it accessible to people with disabilities and may help you to avoid lawsuits- it will likely make it accessible to more customers overall.
The ADA is still a prominent law in U.S. society and the internet is here to stay. Make sure that your business is ADA compliant and accessible to ALL potential users.