Why ADA Guidelines Are Now Mandatory
The reason why there is a set of guidelines called “compliance” instead of “required” is the wide range of websites and digital tools experiences. As there are thousands of variations of websites, so are there hundreds of variations of disabilities. The main goal is to provide alternative content and methods to navigate, view and interact with your business website.
Compliance is not a one time deal but will require an ongoing active approach towards every decision relating to digital content or method of viewing that will become part of your website design and planning going forward. When it is time to update the design of your website, accessibility should be part of the process not as an after thought. Moving forward, every time you upload new content, add in a few extra lines of text and settings. These efforts will make everyone feel included into the experience of your website.
As of January 2018, all businesses regardless of size are required to provide accessible websites, or risk facing lawsuit. Since 2016, lawsuits against small businesses have quadrupled, the highest number of cases are in New York and California. The legal fees alone can add up to $10,000 and you will still have to rebuild your website to make it compliant. If you think you’re too small or that it isn’t a big issue, it is a risk you will run against the clock as all the websites around you become compliant and follow best practice guidelines.
Besides goodwill and equality of access, there is a benefit to making your website more compliant: Better SEO! Thanks to the labels helping adaptive technology to navigate your website, it also makes it more search engine friendly, helping them index it and display your information in results listings more accurately.
Finally, small businesses may be eligible for tax credit up to $5000 towards making their business accessible to those with disabilities. Please contact your accountant or tax specialist to see if this applies to your situation.