People living with disabilities face various barriers in accessing both physical and online spaces.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seeks to protect their rights for safe access to public spaces, including websites.
Nowadays, partly being fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer behaviors have changed drastically, causing most businesses to be conducted online.
Everyone is running to digital platforms for entertainment, engagement, shopping, information, and many other daily life matters. Or even making money.
Platforms like Mturk allow you to earn up to $50 a day, doing various little tasks that don’t take any skill or knowledge.
This makes it more important than ever that businesses be ADA compliant to accommodate all users and their online needs.
Notably, non-compliance with ADA has severe consequences and can hurt your business in various ways.
What Is ADA Website Compliance?
It’s a civil rights law legislated in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against persons living with disabilities in all public spaces.
Initially, it regarded access to physical spaces but has since evolved to websites and the digital space at large.
The standard used to measure compliance is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Some of the things provided in the WCAG guidelines, which are in line with ADA compliance, are color contrast, provision of alternative text for images, and limiting flashing content and animations.
How Non-ADA Compliance Can Hurt Your Business
Lack of ADA website compliance can hurt your business in many ways. Here are some of them:
Facing A Legal Action
One of the ways a lack of ADA website compliance can hurt your business is the looming risk of a lawsuit from persons living with a disability.
They can claim a lack of adequate access to your web content.
The suit can be instituted by a potential customer or user living with a disability who’s unable to purchase goods or navigate the website using assistive technology tools.
It could also be a student or a job seeker unable to fill the online applications.
If a person can’t access web services because of accessibility issues, they can sue you for discrimination.
There are reported cases on record where students have sued universities for inability to file online university applications due to inaccessible web designs.
Such cases are strong, and there’s a great possibility of your business paying colossal amounts in compensation.
In addition, you’ll be forced to pay legal costs, including those of the plaintiff if the case’s outcome is in their favor.
Paying High ADA Fines
Apart from the likelihood of a lawsuit, the federal law allows payment of fines up to USD$75,000 for first-time violators and USD$150,000 for any additional violations.
And this is only at the federal level. Local and state governments may also allow other fines and higher requirements than those required by ADA.
This only goes to show how much financial hurt your business can suffer for ADA website non-compliance.
Rebuilding Your Website With ADA In Mind
Building a good website that adequately represents your business is a huge undertaking that consumes time and money. We covered how to do that in more details in our post about starting a news website.
It can be quite frustrating to un-publish and rebuild the website all over again–no matter the size, amount, or the time it takes to rebuild one.
The best option is to build a website with ADA compliance in mind right from the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for the same website design twice.
This means loss of business throughout the time when rebuilding your website and disruption or holding of other plans to deal with ADA compliance first.
For instance, you’ll need to address website accessibility issues before seeking new partnerships or investors for your business.
You may also be compelled to hold off a new product or service launch that you may have spent time and money preparing for.
Loss Of Business
Many people live with disabilities globally, and an inaccessible website locks out a vast demographic of potential customers.
Most of them need to use assistive software, such as screen readers, or navigate a website using the keyboard only.
Such users will quickly leave your site when they can’t navigate, causing you to lose potential customers and business.
Research conducted in the UK in 2019 showed that eCommerce businesses lost about GBP£17.1 billion from abandoned carts only.
This represents how a lack of ADA website compliance can have a considerable negative impact on your bottom line.
Damage To Your Business Image And Reputation
This is perhaps where your business will hurt most as a direct consequence of no compliance with ADA.
In this age, news spread fast, and people are more connected than ever.
Customers use social platforms to hold businesses accountable. We discovered that while we were reviewing some of the known scam platforms like Freedom Checks.
If it becomes public knowledge that your business faces a lawsuit for having inaccessibility website issues, it can lead to a huge public relations predicament, which is an issue that can significantly damage your business’ reputation.
You’ll be perceived as a business that excludes persons with disabilities, which is something that can take a long time for your business to recover from.
Poor Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Ranking
In complying with ADA, a website needs to be built on a cleaner code and structure for easy navigation with keyboard only and assistive technology tools.
You also need to provide alternative text for images, videos, and audio. These things happen to be excellent for Search Engine Optimization.
Therefore, when they lack in your site, you risk not ranking high on search engines.
Web crawlers usually don’t crawl non-text files, such as images, audio, and video content. Providing alternative text tags for these web elements is therefore essential for your site’s SEO.
Lack of ADA compliance website essentially makes part of your web content non-discoverable, causing you to lose ranking or rank low on search engines.
Loss Of Competitive Advantage
Your website is competing with others that are ADA compliant, making them more appealing to customers than yours.
Your competitors will be increasing their customer base and potentially eating into your market share. In the long run, you’ll lose a lot of prospects, negatively impacting your sales and profit margins.
As a business owner, you need to know how a lack of ADA website compliance can affect your business.
ADA compliance lawsuits are growing by the day, increasing your chances of dealing with one if you fail to comply.
This is in addition to the possibility of losing business to your competitors, damage your business reputation, and the probability of you rebuilding your website.