Small Business Website

Is your website accessible to users with disabilities?

by | July 28, 2022

Bringing your website in compliance with ADA guidance to ensure your business’ website is accessible to users with disabilities helps level the playing field.

Business owner's laptop. Florist website on a laptop screen on a table covered with flowers.

Are websites covered by the ADA?

The answer depends on which U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is answering the question and whether the business that owns the website has a physical place or location where it offers goods and/or service to the public. So far, the general agreement is that a website belonging to a business with a public-facing brick-and-mortar presence is covered by the ADA.

Is your website accessible to users with disabilities?  

 If you haven’t yet updated your website to ensure it is readable by users with disabilities, now is the time to take action.  Websites are deemed “public accommodations”. In the same way that you must ensure your business’ office can be accessed by individuals with disabilities, you must do the same you’re your website.  There’s increasing legal exposure due to new state laws that protect their residents.  If a disabled resident of that state is unable to access your website, you’re apt to get a lawsuit.  We’ve seen many of these coming from New York in recent months.  New guidance from the Department of Justice identifies characteristics of websites that make them inaccessible to people with disabilities such as 

·    Poor color contrast. 

·    Reliance on color to provide information. 

·    Lack of text alternatives, or alt-text, on images. 

·    No captions on videos. 

·    Inaccessible online forms. 

·    Mouse-only navigation rather than keyboard navigation 

Proactively addressing these issues will minimize your exposure to claims.   A resource to assist you in implementing these changes is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which is published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet.  Started in 1999, these guidelines have been updated regularly. Version WCAG 2.1 became a W3C Recommendation in June 2018 and is considered industry standard. Additional updates are expected in 2022.