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Unlocking Accessibility: New Website ADA Regulations

by | May 3, 2023 | ADA Compliance, UI Design, Website Design

Ensuring that your website meets ADA compliance standards is crucial for businesses that aim to be inclusive and accessible to all users. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 outline the best practices for making websites accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who are blind, deaf, or have mobility impairments.

It’s important to note that compliance with these guidelines is not just a best practice, but in many cases, it’s also a legal requirement!

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and that now includes your digital assets. Websites that are not accessible to individuals with disabilities can face legal action, if they meet the necessary requirements.

available tax credit

Businesses may be eligible for a tax credit if they incur expenses related to ADA compliance, including website accessibility improvements!

This tax credit can cover up to 50% of eligible access expenditures over $250, up to a maximum of $10,250 per year. However, to be eligible for this tax credit, businesses must have gross receipts of $1,000,000 or less in the preceding tax year or have had no more than 30 full-time employees during the preceding tax year.

For more up-to-date information on this tax credit and how to claim it, check out the IRS’s website or consult with a tax professional.

now… let’s dive into specifics

Well, we say “specifics,” but in fact their guidelines can be quite nebulous, however, there a few clear examples of manditory ADA updates according to the ‘Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA’ published on March 18th, 2022. Here’s what it says about Title III (businesses “open to the public”): 

“Businesses open to the public must take steps to provide appropriate communication aids and services (often called “auxiliary aids and services”) where necessary to make sure they effectively communicate with individuals with disabilities. For example, communication aids and services can include interpreters, notetakers, captions, or assistive listening devices. Examples of businesses open to the public:

    • Retail stores and other sales or retail establishments
    • Banks
    • Hotels, inns, and motels
    • Hospitals and medical offices
    • Food and drink establishments
    • Auditoriums, theaters, and sports arenas.”

Even though your business may not be on this list, if it falls under “open to the public” according ADA standards, these mandates do appear to apply. Another potential complication is being added to this conversation, as there is an argument being made that all businesses that fall under “places of public accommodation,” a clasification that normally includes restaurants and other similar establishments, should be made manditory regardless of employee counts.

Another argument that’s being brought forward by increasingly enthusiastic law firms is whether or not the existance of a website in and of itself renders that business as “places of public accomodation,” which effectively mandate those entities into making the necessary ADA Accessibility updates.

As a result of this, some smaller businesses may not be clear on whether they are required to make their websites accessible, and may choose to wait for further guidance or clarification before investing in the necessary upgrades. This can be problematic, especially with the aforementioned hyper-vigulance of a few law firms throughout the United States lately.

how to make your website ADA compliant

It’s perfetly understandable to look into what’s involved in making your webiste ADA Compliant before deciding to hire an agency. To that end, here are some suggestions on how to make your website ADA compliant in-house, without the need for a professional developer.

    • Start by conducting a website accessibility audit using an online tool or manual review to identify any areas where your site may not be compliant with ADA standards.
    • Use accessible web design best practices such as using descriptive alt text for images, providing captions for videos, and using clear and easy-to-read fonts.
    • Ensure that all website functionality is accessible using a keyboard, as some users may not be able to use a mouse or other pointing device.
    • Provide clear and concise headings and subheadings to help users navigate your website and find the information they need quickly.
    • Use color contrast tools to ensure that all text and images on your website are easily distinguishable and accessible to users with visual impairments.
    • Include text transcripts or audio descriptions for multimedia content such as videos and audio clips.
    • Finally, test your website using screen readers and other assistive technology to ensure that it is accessible and easy to navigate for all users.

more information

By making your website accessible to individuals with disabilities, you not only ensure that all users can access your content, but you also reduce your risk of legal action and negative publicity. Work with a web development team that understands the importance of ADA compliance and can help you achieve it for your website.

For more information on WCAG 2.1 and accessibility standards, visit the W3C website: https://www.w3.org/.