In this digital world, web accessibility for individuals with disabilities has become a major concern for businesses and legal authorities. From non-profit organizations to disability advocacy groups, many institutions have been striving to integrate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with websites to provide ease of access to people with disabilities.
In recent years, a number of plaintiff disability firms have filed lawsuits in court about inaccessible websites. In 2017, plaintiffs filed 814 federal lawsuits for web inaccessibility. These lawsuits were filed against many companies including Winn-Dixie, Glossier, Kmart, McDonald’s, Foot Locker, and Empire Today.
While fast-food, hospitality, and retail industries were on the top of the list, there has been litigation against educational organizations, healthcare operators, and other professional service providers. Additionally, there is a facet of plaintiff disability firms is specifically targeting other law firms. We’ve had clients come to us with increasing frequency, over the fear that their firm will be on the hit list next.
If your law firm is sued by disability advocates because your website is noncompliant with ADA, it would be a great PR disaster. To help you understand better, read on.
What Is ADA Compliance?
The Department of Justice (DOJ) instituted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. It’s a civil right law introduced in an effort to eliminate the discriminations based on different abilities. Put simply, the law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in different areas of life, including education, transportation, jobs, and all private and public places. The law guarantees the protection of people with disabilities from discrimination.
ADA is the reason for many accessibility improvements in different sectors. It includes the installation of wheelchair ramps in buildings, Braille signage, elevators, and improvement in the transportation sector. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all public and private places be legally bound to remove all access barriers, which could restrain a disabled person from accessing business services or goods.
In 2010, the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was issued by the US Department of Justice. The issued notice indicates that the US Department of Justice wanted to change Title III of the ADA in order to ensure it also applies to web accessibility. Since then, many legal organizations have broadly argued that any website offering goods or services should comply with the ADA laws.
Should I Make My Site ADA Compliant?
Whether you practice family law or criminal defense, your firm is committed to providing legal solutions to a community. This means prospects visiting your site will have a wide range of capabilities and have different expectations when accessing the details and offerings you provide. Making your law firm website as user-friendly as possible will certainly improve your position in the marketplace.
Not to mention, many attorneys only leverage their website to update the information related to their business; it can be any recently introduced offering, an update to their bio, or any news about the amendment in state laws.
But for many consumers, your website is likely to be the first place to contact you. Therefore, improving your site accessibility can attract a vast number of clients to your site, including individuals with disabilities.
Since 2017, the laws regarding web accessibility are in dispute in both federal and state courts, and due to this Google prefers websites that comply with ADA. In addition to protecting your law firm from the risk of litigation, web accessibility will boost your market share along with offering an improved user experience.
Still on the ‘should’ front, in addition to Google’s preference toward ADA compliant websites, there are practical SEO reasons to consider website compliance. Cate Humpage, our Account Communications Specialist, wrote a post about these tactics here.
Why Is It Important To Make Your Website ADA Compliant?
Over a couple of decades, technological advancements have revolutionized the world. From digital newspapers to online services, the internet has paved the way for people to find a variety of ways to find solutions to their problems with great convenience. According to a CNN report, an average American spends at least half of a day staring at the computer or smartphone screen.
Moreover, several reports have confirmed that U.S. users spend more than 5 hours a day on mobile devices. While you may find these stats quite alarming, the results indicate the importance of the internet in this digitally driven world. That being said, no one wants to be barred from leveraging the incredible facilities and accessibilities internet provides.
However, every 1 out of 5 people has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Report. As we mentioned in the beginning that many disabled plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against the inaccessibility of websites. All this indicates how important it is to make your website accessible for individuals with disabilities.
How Do I Make My Website ADA Compliant?
After reading the benefits of improving your site accessibility, you have probably figured out a way to make your website ADA compliant. The Department of Justice (DOJ) hasn’t yet published the formal guidelines for the implementation of regulations. However, the internet community has introduced the guidelines for ADA compliance in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
Many developers usually adopt standard outlines mentioned under Level AA of WCAG 2.0. Along with providing a strong model to offer equal access to all users, these standard guidelines have been useful for many online accessibility laws across the world.
It’s important to mention here that the World Wide Web Consortium in collaboration with various other groups created these standards in an attempt to assist content producers and web developers in making their work equally accessible to all, including users with disabilities.
Having read this far, you know the importance of making your law firm website compliant with ADA guidelines. For that, you first need to evaluate to what extent your law firm website is accessible to people with disabilities. Next, make sure the digital marketing agency you’re hiring or working with provides ADA compliant measures.
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The Bottom Line
When it comes to making your law firm website ADA compliant, plenty of benefits come along the way. This includes impressive financial returns, enhanced business reputation, and minimized litigation risk. Moreover, making your website ADA compliant may require extra cost but that could be worth it to be an inclusive law firm.
This post goes through the most recent lawsuits regarding website accessibility.