Most of us have heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed by Congress in 1990 and the positive effects it’s had on the way many Americans’ live their daily lives: providing wheelchair ramps for public buildings, television closed captioning, even the use of service animals. But did you know that the law also applies to the internet? Website accessibility not only can help boost your site’s performance, but also can help you avoid running into serious legal trouble.

 

The ADA and the Internet

The ADA was passed by Congress to provide legal protection for individuals with disabilities against discrimination. The civil rights law applies to any public accommodation but was passed before the internet become so prevalent. In 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began to make it clear that the internet is considered a place of public accommodation and, therefore, subject to the ADA, reaffirming their stance in 2022. Since then, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) has become the main source of guidance in making websites compliant with the law.

 

Recent Legal Actions

Since the DOJ took its stance on the internet’s applicability to the ADA, there has been a sharp uptick in demand letters and lawsuits filed against businesses for their websites’ failure to comply with the law. Since 2018, the number of such legal actions has increased 13% year over year, with the record being set in 2022 with 3,250 lawsuits filed over website accessibility, and roughly 100,000 business owners receiving demand letters over website violations. If found responsible for a violation of the ADA, a business could be fined up to $150,000. In addition, the average ADA lawsuit settlement ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. With the ever-growing prevalence of the internet, this trend is only predicted to continue, with an expected 4,220 lawsuits to be filed in 2023 alone.

 

Why Website Accessibility Is Important

In addition to serious legal consequences, there are numerous reasons why you should consider making your business’s website accessible:

 

  • Accessibility Improves Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Having an accessible website can increase your site’s rankings with search engines by making it more friendly for all users. A recent study conducted by SEMRUSH found that for sites with accessibility features, overall traffic increased by an average of 12%, with 73.4% of domains seeing an increase in organic traffic.
  • Federal Tax Credits: The IRS has made available the Disabled Access Credit for businesses to help with the cost of removing barriers for individuals with disabilities. The tax credit is worth up to 50% of eligible accessibility expenditures, worth up to $5,000 for eligible businesses.
  • Helps Your Business Reach Customers Other Businesses May Ignore: If an individual with a disability is searching for a particular service, they may be drawn to your site simply because it is accessible, allowing you to capture business that organizations with non-compliant sites missed.
  • Moral and Ethical Imperative: Making your website more accessible is not only good for business, it’s the right thing to do to help make a more equitable and inclusive community. Many individuals are more likely to conduct business with companies they feel are ethically responsible and committed to positive change.

 

How We Can Help

At Light House Studios, all of our websites are built with Accessibility in mind. However, due to the standards required by the WCAG, it is difficult to build a website that is fully compliant and that looks good to the general users of the site.

We have partnered with accessiBe, one of the top developers in the accessibility space. By installing accessiBe on your site, we can ensure your site is not only compliant, but that it will have a much better functionality for those visitors who are blind, vision impaired, etc., that require a little more help making sense of the content on your website.

Plus, for our Website Care & Assistance clients, there is no additional monthly charge to monitor the site’s accessibility. There is a monthly or yearly fee to accessiBe and a small one-time setup fee for us to implement this on your site, but it is well worth it for the peace of mind you will gain from knowing you are not only compliant, but also providing a much more user-friendly experience for everyone. AccessiBe is not a one-time fix; it continues to keep your site compliant with any new additions to your site in the future.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of website accessibility, please Contact Us and we’ll be happy to set up an appointment to discuss how we can help your particular business.