What is ADA Compliance and Why is it Necessary for a Website?
People who are disabled have the same rights as everyone else. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits any discrimination against disabled people in employment, public, private facilities, healthcare, transportation, and similar areas.
ADA is not only limited to ‘physical’ spaces but also applies to digital space. A website that is not ADA compliant can be debarring to a user with disabilities and can be held legally liable for not following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
What is ADA Compliance for a Website?
For a website, ADA compliance means implementing practices that make the website accessible to people with disabilities. This includes the blind or visually impaired, hearing impaired, those who have seizure disorders, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Here are some features that fall under ADA compliance:
- Text-to-speech feature: With this technology, users can listen to the text that is displayed on the screen.
- Screen readers: Users can interact with the content via audio or touch.
- Alt text for images: When you add alt text to images, the screen reader reads out the image for blind people or those with low visibility.
- Closed captioning for video playback: Captions or transcripts in videos help hearing-impaired users read the content and understand it.
- Anchor text for hyperlinks: Avoid using words like “Click Here” or “Learn More” as it can be confusing to understand when read through a screen reader. Provide proper anchor texts for links. Underlining links can also help users identify the links easily.
Why is ADA Compliance Important?
Apart from the obvious reason of accessibility to all users, there are many other reasons why it’s important for your website to be ADA compliant.
For example, an ADA compliant website can save you and your company from facing any legal implications or lawsuits.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people moved towards online shopping and online food ordering, more website accessibility issues came to the surface.
In 2019, Guillermo Robles, a blind man, tried to order food from Domino’s website but found the website to be inaccessible. Despite using screen reading software, he couldn’t place an order through the website.
He filed a discrimination lawsuit against the pizza chain arguing that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies not just to the physical business locations but also to the online platforms. Thus, a business should have an accessible website, otherwise, it is alienating to disabled people.
Robles won the famous case in Domino’s Pizza v. Guillermo.
In the last couple of years, a number of lawsuits have been filed against websites over issues of inaccessibility. This also includes Beyonce.com.
According to the American Bar Association, 85% of federal lawsuits in 2020, involving ADA violations, happened in New York, Florida, and California. Since 2018, about 1/5th of the lawsuits have been filed against companies whose websites or mobile applications weren’t accessible to their disabled users.
ADA Compliance in the Retail Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the retail industry hard, causing more people to resort online shopping including the pickup and delivery of food. As a result, eCommerce platforms that were not ADA compliant exposed themselves to litigation and lawsuits.
Based on a UsableNet report, digital accessibility cases in the retail industry grew to 3,503 in 2020, up from 2,890 in 1990. From 2017 to 2019, more than 66% of top online retailers faced either an ADA web or app-accessibility lawsuit.
ADA Compliance in the Restaurant Industry
The restaurant industry relies heavily on in-person dining. However, with COVID-19, most businesses had to adapt to online ordering systems to stay afloat. While the businesses weren’t flourishing as they did pre-COVID, online ordering was a lifeline in these difficult and challenging times.
According to Statista, the US consumers spending on dining and take out reached 63 percent in 2020. In 2019, the market size of the delivery sector reached 107.44 billion USD and is expected to rise 154.34 billion USD by 2023.
As the restaurants provided the ability to order online, they also exposed themselves to liabilities. Many restaurants were sued as their websites and mobile apps were non-compliant with ADA. Many of them had to go to trial or prove their compliance through costly litigation.
Under ADA Title III, the maximum civil penalty for a first violation is $75,000, with subsequent violations being capped at $150,000.
Having an online business comes with it’s own set of responsibilities that businesses must follow to ensure safe online practices. People with disabilities have equal rights to access the online space and be part of the country’s economy. ADA violations can not only marginalize a disabled person but also have lasting consequences on your business. Many businesses had to pay hefty amounts in litigation and lawsuit cases as a result of noncompliance.
In today’s digital world, providing your consumers with an online ordering platform is essential. At AkiraCart, we offer a fully-functioning restaurant website ordering system coded with ADA compliance that follow WCAG standards. We strive towards creating functional systems for restaurants and consumers where online ordering is fast, stress-free, and accessible. This includes curbside pickup, takeout, dine-in, delivery, and catering.