ADA Compliance - A Brief Discussion

Accessibility is important to get right. Making your website and applications easy to use and available for different users' needs isn't just good for business, it's a legal requirement.

Author’s note: This Sho.ai blog post is not legal advice, as no one at Sho.ai is an attorney. If you need legal advice, speak with a lawyer. This blog post is for information over how to better your website for accessibility. 


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The Domino's Example

Many of you reading this might have already heard about the story of Domino’s ADA Lawsuit. Guillermo Robles used a screen reader to access websites on his computer. He sued Domino’s over the complaint that he could not use his screen reader for Domino’s website or mobile app. The Court ruled that Domino’s was not in compliance and amongst other penalties, Domino’s was forced to make updates to their platforms. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act was founded in 1990 in an effort to end discrimination against those with differing abilities. The ADA is one of the most complicated pieces of legislation in regards to accessibility but does not address online compliance - even after several amendments have since been made. That means it usually falls to the courts to decide how ADA standards apply to websites, or if they even do at all. 

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There was a similar case in 2016

This one was against the University of California Berkeley over accessibility of online content. Specifically, the school had not included subtitles on the videos in their official YouTube Channels. The DOJ ruled that UC Berkeley should use the WCAG as the guidelines for accessibility. The WCAG is a set of accessibility standards created by the World Wide Web Consortium in partnership with several others to help web designers make their work accessible to all. The WCAG has twelve guidelines that fall under four categories: Perceivable. Operable. Understandable. Robust. 

Accessibility is Important

to simply ensure that all of your potential customers have access to and functional use of your website, but it is also especially important for your SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s a method to improve how well search engines will see the content of your website through efficient tagging and content. There are certain areas of SEO that can end up conflicting with ADA compliance, however. Things like alt text for image tagging. Instead of using a keyword, assistive readers would need a descriptive text. It is the responsibility of the SEO’s to improve and accommodate accessibility. Thoughtful consideration for all users will help your company bring a balance by being able to achieve both SEO and ADA compliance. 

In conclusion

the legal requirements for ADA compliance are essential to understand and conform to. With some of the more recent lawsuits, it’s clear that people are starting to pay attention to accessibility on the web. Overall, making your website easy to use and available in different forms for all devices and users’ needs is critical for a company’s long term success and growth in the 21st century. Consideration for all users and ADA compliance not only helps you grow closer to your future customers but it also keeps your company out of legal trouble as well.

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Author

Whittney Twomey

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