Why Websites Need To Be ADA Accessible
There are many reasons that websites need to be ADA accessible.
ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is a civil rights law that is supposed to help to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The law is supposed to be applied to all areas of public life including but not limited to jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public such as parks, public libraries, restaurants and gyms, to name just a few. This law is supposed to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
The internet was not widely used by the general public when the ADA was passed into law in 1990 and thus, the ADA did not initially have guidelines specifically for website accessibility. Even though the guidelines for being ADA compliant in the digital world are not as clear as they are for the more traditional physical world we are used to, ADA lawsuits are being filed and taken to trial–and many websites have been found to not be compliant with ADA law.
Just like our parents, grandparents and the generations before them had to get used to new technologies such as telephones, cell phones, television, and electric lights, the internet is here to stay. It is likely that ADA guidelines and requirements for websites will be established in the years to come.
Accessibility = Bigger Audience
The more accessible a website is, the more likely that it will reach a bigger audience. When a website is accessible to people who (for example) are hearing or visually impaired, not only will the many, many people with hearing and visual impairments be included in the pool or potential visitors to a website, it will make it more accessible to many other people as well. An example of this is, people who do not like to read or have a hard time with processing written words may appreciate the tools that are available to people who are visually impaired.
Even though it may seem unfair to a business owner to get sued for laws that are not clearly defined for websites, the reality is that this could happen. Even when a person prevails in a lawsuit, they will still have had to spend their time, and likely money, to help them do this. The cost vs. value of making sure a website is ADA compliant is often more appealing to business owners compared to taking the risk of getting sued in the future.
User and SEO Friendly
Many ADA compliances for websites will wind up making a website ultimately more user friendly. Business owners may be afraid that making ADA improvements can hurt a website’s SEO but there are many ways to make changes without disrupting any SEO. In fact, if more people can use your website and traffic increases, this can help your SEO!