All About the American Disabilities Act for Websites

Wheelchair Sign

ADA Title 3 – Who’s Next in the Court Room?

So another new thing for the attorneys to bring suit to innocent people has started. We don’t even have solid laws in place yet, but hey, they’re coming for us – and I’m not going to say they’re only coming for “big business”. They have figured out that “mom and pop” don’t have a treasure chest of cash laying around to defend themselves…so the small businesses have become food for the sharks…but I’m jumping ahead. Let’s talk about the American Disability Act (ADA), Title 3 – which is about accessibility for the disabled in reference to your website.

Web content should be accessible to the disabled, and those who must navigate by voice, screen readers or any assistive technologies.

Here’s some important points from Business News Daily:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires certain businesses to make accommodations for people with disabilities.
  • Web content should be accessible to the blind, deaf, and those who must navigate by voice, screen readers or other assistive technologies.
  • Businesses that fall under Title I, those that operate 20 or more weeks per year with at least 15 full-time employees, or Title III, those that fall under the category of “public accommodation,” are covered by the ADA.
  • There are no clear regulations defining website accessibility.
  • Failure to create an ADA-compliant website could open a business to lawsuits, financial liabilities and damage to your brand reputation.

So the last 2 items, I made bold, to point out how and why you need to pay attention and read this article and others and TAKE ACTION NOW, BEFORE YOU GET SLAMMED BY AN ATTORNEY LOOKING FOR A QUICK SETTLEMENT!

The laws are different from state to state, county to county, city to city…because we haven’t had any cases tried by the Supreme Court yet. That means each individual judge must make decisions on cases without a true reference to fall back on, and of course they will be damned if they find for a website that is being insensitive to disabled people.

So how are they being insensitive you might ask? Well, I’m certainly not an expert “yet”, but I’m on my way. Here’s a couple of the highlights of things that they’re coming after you for:

  • Low contrast of text against a background. Makes it hard for a person with bad eyesight to read.
  • Features on the page that only rely on visual cues, that can be hidden from a screen reader or assistive device. For example, a button on the screen seems pretty harmless, except if you cannot see what it is going to do…and sending someone to another site or page by surprise is not nice.
  • Images that don’t have a description are leaving out a group of people that cannot see the picture, but would like to at least hear about it. (I grew up with a blind aunt and uncle, and they always wanted me to describe what I was looking at for them.)

Businesses that fall under ADA Title I or ADA Title III are required to develop a website that offers “reasonable accessibility” to people with disabilities

-Business News Daily

Here are a few ways to address accessibility issues associated with your web content:

  • Create alt tags for all images, videos and audio files: Alt tags allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of content they might not otherwise be able to view. Alt tags describe the object itself and, generally, the purpose it serves on the site.
  • Create text transcripts for video and audio content: Text transcripts help hearing-impaired users understand content that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
  • Identify the site’s language in header code: Making it clear what language the site should be read in helps users who utilize text readers. Text readers can identify those codes and function accordingly.
  • Offer alternatives and suggestions when users encounter input errors: If a user with a disability is encountering input errors because of their need to navigate the website differently, your site should automatically offer recommendations to them as to how to better navigate toward the content they need.
  • Create a consistent, organized layout: Menus, links and buttons should be organized in such a way that they are clearly delineated from one another and are easily navigated throughout the entire site.

That’s a lot of work, and I’m not a Programmer…

OK, we can help you, and it will not cost you and arm and a leg, or force you to sell your first-born! can help business owners to lower their chances of getting caught “ignoring” the ADA initiative with an Accessibility Widget. This widget (look in the top left corner on this page for our accessibility widget, and click on it to see what it does). It handles everything visual from contrast to font size, to reading the screen for your visitor. This at the very least, will indicate to your users as well as the legal people – judge, attorneys, etc. – that you are aware of the ADA, and have made a sincere effort to comply. You can click HERE to see the different bundles we offer, but the widget by itself is $39.99/month to have on your pages.

Now, if you run a larger business, with more than 15 employees, YOUR COMPANY IS A TARGET, and you need to go a step further: you do need to hire a web developer to walk through your site. Our web development company, Palm Beach Creative Design, can perform this service for you. Please contact us directly for a quote. It will be based on the amount of content that must be reviewed and updated.

Several Different Solutions – Things to Be Aware Of

There are other companies out there that have a redirection type of service, that runs all of your content through their service, which will “make it compliant” on-the-fly. They charge a lot of money for this, and they never do anything permanent to your site – so the moment you stop paying, you are in the same exact position as you were when you started: vulnerable.

My professional suggestion: If you can afford to do so, hire a professional to make permanent changes, and then you can stay up to date as things change at a much low cost for ongoing support.

Mark Turkel is the CEO for Palm Beach Software Design, Inc. and also the COO for Palm Beach Creative Design. He has been a software developer, architect, and business leader for over 33 years, and is still very passionate about what he does.