When the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) first became a law way back in 1990, the digital landscape we know today was still a far off notion, and therefore, not a compliance concern. At the time ADA was signed into law, it focused on accessibility issues for buildings, brick and mortar businesses and stores, and municipal services and roadways. While the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 addressed 508 Compliance (Section 508 of the Act refers to equal access to the digital resources of federally funded programs, grants and activities), few could foresee the future effect ADA would have as the World Wide Web became first a resource, then a phenomenon, and finally, the primary way we communicate and do business in a modern world.
While it took some time for both the government and the business world to catch up, in January of 2018, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WACG), which clearly mandated an accessibility standard for all public (and some non-public) facing websites and online content. While some websites began implementing the needed changes immediately, others were understandably reluctant to immediately overhaul their entire website to accommodate the new regulations. Many still have not adopted the WCAG recommendations.
If your company or agency has yet to work with a website accessibility expert, like WCASG, to ensure you’re in compliance, now is the time to act. From alienating potential customers to facing an expensive potential lawsuit, every day you wait to implement WACG is a day you’re exposing your business to significant risk.
So, what are the risks?
Risk #1 – Damaging the reputation of your brand
A recent study in Inc. Magazine indicated that as many as 91% of online consumers read online reviews of products and brands, and that 84% of those people trust these reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation from a trusted friend. What does that tell us? Something we likely already know in today’s competitive, viral world. Your organization’s brand reputation and customer loyalty can be easily and even permanently damaged from negative online statements on consumer review sites and from friends and family sharing adverse website experiences on social media platforms.
While concerns about the cost of bringing your site up to code are certainly understandable, they should be counterbalanced by what the cost of lost customers and bad PR from a potential lawsuit will do to your bottom line. The good news is, you can ease into the transition of ADA compliance with tools like WCASG’s ADA Accessibility App. The WCASG app is designed to determine and fix some of the immediate compliance issues you’re facing WITHOUT having to edit any of the source code on your site.
RISK #2 – Audience alienation
Recent statistics indicate that 1 in 4 adults in the US have a disability. That’s 25% of the entire population. As many as 38.2 million people in the country report some type of hearing loss, and 26.9 million American adults are affected by some type of vision impairment.
Now, compare that with web statistics use: The average American spends 6 hours and 42 minutes a day on the internet. THAT’S 27% OF A YEAR! When looking at these statistics, it becomes obvious why making your website complaint for this significant portion of the population is crucial to both winning new clients and retaining current ones. Acting NOW to update your website to ensure compliance might be easier than you think. Contacting a website accessibility expert like WCASG for ADA compliance consultation can be your first step to developing a plan to bring your online assets up to code and up to par.
Risk #3 – A non-compliance lawsuit
The threat of facing a lawsuit for a website that is not in compliance with ADA is increasing every day. A recent study indicates that the number of lawsuits filed in federal court increased by 177% from 2017 to 2018.
Preliminary numbers for 2019 indicate an even bigger jump than the year before. There have been several national brands and companies that have been hit by significant ADA compliance lawsuits where the courts have ruled in the Plaintiff’s favor.
The costs of defending yourself against a non-compliance website are substantial – significantly more than the costs of bringing your website current. If your organization is sued for lack of ADA compliance, you’re not only looking at the costly legal fees spent on your own legal defense, but the likelihood that you will have to pay the legal fees of the Plaintiff, along with potential non-compliance fines and the cost of having to bring your website into full compliance by a federal court imposed deadline.
The Time to Comply is Now
At WCASG, we specialize in helping to upgrade your existing website to full ADA compliance level, or can build you a website that fully meets WCAG standards. Our team of premiere developers have extensive expertise in ADA compliance. We pride ourselves on working with you to develop a compliance plan that’s rooted in our three vision pillars: Awareness, Access and Affordability.
Want to learn more? Contact WCASG today to schedule a consultation with one of our ADA compliance experts. We’re here to help you protect your business and bring your website to the next level.
Corresponding article in the news: https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hotels-ada-compliance-20181111-story.html