Why eCommerce Websites Need to be ADA Compliant
The Americans with Disabilities Act was created by George Bush during his presidency on July 26, 1990. It is meant to improve the life quality of Americans with disabilities by making public accommodations to all spaces in the country. Still, it is rare to find these accommodations executed in the digital world.
Many eCommerce companies base their whole experience around making it easier for customers to shop but rarely consider their disabled users. The latter need special accommodations to make it more accessible for them to use their websites.
It is crucial to remember that to provide high-quality user experiences, websites must be accessible to both disabled and able-bodied users. Therefore, in the following article, we will go through the reasons why a website should be ADA compliant and its overall benefits.
Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act Title III – Why Does ADA Compliance Matter?
The ADA is meant to protect all civil rights of disabled folks and fight against the discrimination they face daily. This act has a specific title regarding eCommerce websites, which is called the ADA Title III and states that all individuals must be able to use the same goods and services in public accommodations to prevent discrimination.
Places of public accommodation include several commonly used areas, such as stores, restaurants, educational institutions, etc. The ADA applies to websites too.
Is ADA Compliance Mandatory for Websites?
There isn’t any law currently in place that regulates website accessibility. Still, several eCommerce pages must be ADA compliant, especially those with 15 or more full-time employees running at least 20 times a week. Businesses that are aimed at the general public must also be ADA compliant, such as hotels and banks, as they are commonly used by everyone and anyone.
You must remember that businesses that fail to meet the needs of disabled users can be sued. Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate these features into websites to accommodate people with speech, physical, visual, and auditory disabilities.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Consider the Special Needs of Hearing- and Visually-impaired Individuals
Although hundreds of types of special needs need to be addressed on public sites to meet ADA compliance regulations, you can start by making it easier for hearing and visually impaired individuals to navigate through your website.
In order to do this, you must prioritize voice and design navigation, which can be hard to redesign once you’ve already established a website, but it can save you from a lawsuit. An excellent way to do this is by building screen readers for users who need Braille and text transcripts that describe visual content.
Something that can make a whole world of difference is defining the language you use on your website, as this helps people with visual disabilities use their screen readers much more effectively.
Customer Service Is Key
Another crucial aspect of ADA compliance is customer service, which comes into play when you notice a user struggling to navigate through your e-commerce website. In these cases, it is better to be safe than sorry, and it doesn’t matter whether the user has a disability or not; offering help will always be a good idea.
You must also offer several communication channels with your customer service team to improve your digital accessibility, such as live chat, phone calls, email, etc. Remember, there are hundreds of things you don’t know about people with disabilities, so you must do proper research about how to achieve ADA compliance.
The best thing to do is not make assumptions, as many people with disabilities have adapted to an abled-bodied, focused world. Still, it is nice to consider their needs and have a website accessibility policy page on your e-commerce website.
The Finer Details of Website Accessibility
Several aspects need to be considered when designing accessible websites. Some of them were created by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which indicate the rules online retailers must follow to meet ADA compliance.
Your website must have several access points so anyone can input and receive information effectively. Some of the changes you can make in your website’s design are to add an on-screen keyboard for people with ALS, an effective search field, and a site map that helps find information within the website.
E-commerce websites tend to have several accessibility issues regarding their appearance. One simple change you can implement is allowing your users to zoom in up to 200% to better read what’s on the screen. The hyperlinked information should also be highlighted and thoroughly explained to be 100% clear and different from regular text.
Please make sure to also use a consistent design, as this will help people with disabilities not get confused when navigating through your website.
Regarding the presentation of your website, you must consider the following aspects to ensure web accessibility.
- There must be descriptive text that provides efficient information about the website and the things that can be seen on the screen.
- You must also add proper heading tags, allowing users to understand your website’s structure.
- Using color must be a mere design element and should not convey any additional meaning. Otherwise, you must present a text-to-speech explanation of it.
- Website forms must be as simple as possible and easy to fix. They should thoroughly explain the information that needs to be written and point out any mistakes the user may have made while filling it.
- Add labels to all visual elements on your website, even if the information isn’t important or can’t be clearly seen.
- Take some extra time reviewing the code of your website to avoid any usability mistakes or complaints.
In order to improve your web accessibility and comply with ADA rules, please avoid popups as much as possible, as this will make it easier for everyone to navigate your platform. If you can’t avoid them, at least make them easy to exit.
You must avoid automatic elements as much as possible, such as automatic videos or a drastic layout change, as this could confuse your users. If any portion of your website is time-dependant, your users must be able to change it, as some can need a larger amount of time to navigate through it.
What Are the Business Benefits of Creating an ADA-Compliant Website?
Although the ADA Title III only demands reasonable accommodations that ensure equal access to all users, it is crucial to understand how doing this will benefit your online shopping business.
It’s the Right Thing to Do
All users deserve equal access accommodations, especially during these times when the internet is a crucial part of our lives. Therefore, it is only fair to offer ADA compliance to all our users so they can get a fantastic experience.
Boost Your Sales
More than 61,000,000 American adults live with a disability, which is why it is only logical to offer online compliance to them so that they can buy your products and boost your sales.
Avoid Legal Liability
Several legal issues in the past have set precedents about the importance of creating an accessible website and meeting ADA requirements. Therefore, it is only a matter of time until the federal court starts including all websites in the accessibility legislation.
ADA compliance lawsuits have risen by 300% in the past five years, which clearly indicates how important this has become in the world wide web, especially for commercial websites.
Create a More Usable Website
Creating more usable websites is a matter of simple public accommodation, as it isn’t only beneficial for disabled individuals but for everyone who uses the platform, as the WCAG rules make it easier for everyone to navigate through websites and find their desired content.
Showcase Innovative Technology
Nowadays, it is easier than ever to create ADA compliance technology, as web developers can use CCS to create a better implementation of dynamic website models. Therefore, doing this can work as a fantastic marketing strategy, making your business seem more professional and advanced.
Improve Your Search Engine Optimization
Implementing web accessibility rules also helps to enhance your sales through SEO practices, as they sometimes overlap. Therefore, accessibility compliance helps you rank higher on search engines, which allows users to find your website much faster.
Creating an accessible design for your e-commerce website is crucial if you want to avoid ADA lawsuits and improve your sales. That’s why we highly encourage all website owners to do their own research regarding these subjects so that they can meet all ADA standards and help their users understand their online stores.
ADA regulations should also be ingrained in your company’s core principles, as accessibility is a legal right that everyone should be able to enjoy, no matter their differing abilities. If you have an e-commerce or any other type of online business, please be aware of the thousands of millions of people with disabilities that share the world with you and make it easier for them to enjoy your services.