Making Your Website Handicap Accessible

Handicap-Accessible Website
How can your ensure your website is handicap-accessible and ADA-compliant?

Is your website handicap accessible?

By now you’ve probably heard the news, but if you haven’t, I’m here to enlighten you. In a growing trend businesses, including small law firms, are being sued for the lack of accessibility on their website. 

So What’s the Big Deal?

You may be wondering if this is a ploy developed by your fellow attorneys or if this is a serious concern that you need to take action on.  The bottom line is yes, you should be taking efforts to ensure your website is accessible and complies with ADA guidelines. 

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However, before we can jump into what your law firm should do, we need to set the foundation for what the law says about ADA compliance online. 

Well, the actual law does not have a set standard or framework for what an ADA compliant website looks like. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not mention what is required of a business’s online property, but courts have interpreted Title III of the ADA to include websites and online assets.

Historically, Title III of the ADA applies to physical aspects such as having a wheelchair accessible entrance, altering the width of doorways, and other accommodations to ensure public premises are accessible to all. Now, the interpretation of Title III has expanded the stipulations beyond a physical location to digital locations as well.

So, what does your law firm need to do about it?

What ADA Compliant Looks Like

Having an ADA compliant website is all about ensuring that your website is accessible to all your online visitors. While ADA is the legal side of the issue, website accessibility is the technical and design side that allows visitors with sight, hearing, or mobility disabilities to peruse your site and take full advantage of all the site’s elements.

Now we are at the point where we dive into what an accessible website looks like (congratulations on making it this far!), especially when we don’t have a legal framework to follow. In recent rulings, U.S. courts and the Department of Justice cited the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA success criteria as the standard to measure whether your website is compliant. 

Here’s a brief taste of the WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria: 

  • You need to provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it may be adapted to different forms (e.g. large print, braille, speech, etc.)
  • Your content needs to be adaptable
  • You need to make it easier for your visitors to see and hear content
  • You need to provide ways to help your visitors navigate, find content, and determine where they are on your website (i.e. breadcrumbs)
  • You need to make text readable and understandable

Seems pretty simple, right? Well, there are 33 more guidelines provided by WCAG for you to follow.

Should My Law Firm’s Website be ADA Compliant?

With a foundation in ADA compliance and how it affects your law firm, what should you do next?

Well, the simple answer is – do something! 

Don’t sit around and wait until the daunting moment when you find yourself under fire for not playing by the WCAG rules. Take action now to ensure that your website is ADA Compliant. 

Taking action on this issue can help your law firm: 

  • Minimize Risk

Even though there is no written law concerning your website in the original text of the ADA, that fact remains that your law firm’s digital assets are being interpreted as a public resource for online visitors, thus holding you accountable to website accessibility standards. Nobody likes being sued, so minimize your risk by making sure your website is compliant.

  • Expand Your Reach

By making your website accessible, you are actually expanding your reach. First, you are able to reach a previously non targeted clientele that was previously unable to use your website. Secondly, having an ADA compliant website can also improve your SEO scores with the use of technical improvements (e.g. meta tags, alternative image text and video transcripts).

  • Boost Your Reputation by Doing the Right Thing

Not to be cliche, but do the right thing! When you take steps to make your website accessible, you are ensuring that everyone that comes to your site will have the opportunity to engage with your law firm and get the service they need. As an added bonus to doing the right thing, users will take notice of the steps you are taking, having a direct affect on your reputation.

Bringing It All Together

Are you ready to make your law firm’s website ADA compliant? 

You can use accessiBe, an AI powered web accessibility tool, to automatically transition your site into a completely accessible website. To see what accesiBe can do, take a look at our website and click on the accessibility icon in the lower left corner.

Is accessiBe for you and your law firm? Try the 7-day trial to see! 

Or, you can try to find an ADA  consultant to audit your website, tell you what needs to change, and then get a quote for what that may cost to update your website. 

Or, you can run the risk of not taking steps to become compliant. 

The choice is ultimately yours, but at Integrity Marketing Solutions, we are recommending accessiBe to our clients.

References

http://www.fox13news.com/news/local-news/owners-of-non-ada-compliant-websites-could-face-lawsuits

https://www.business.com/articles/is-your-website-ada-compliant-how-to-check-and-how-it-affects-your-business/

https://medium.com/@krisrivenburgh/the-ada-checklist-website-compliance-guidelines-for-2019-in-plain-english-123c1d58fad9

 

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