The dangers of….

…not having your site ADA Compliant.

If your business falls under Title III of ADA and you fail to meet the accessibility requirements, a user can file a compliant against you for ADA violations. Depending on how or where the compliant is filed, several different outcomes are possible.

State Commission for Disabilities

Each state has an office/organization tasked with overseeing issues related to ADA. If one of your customers files a compliant with this organization, they will attempt to mediate a resolution. This process is totally voluntary. You can choose not to participate, but refusal doesn’t mean that your customer cannot pursue further legal action against you.

The Dangers of Not Having Your Site ADA Compliant

Suits filed as a private entity

Accessibility violations to ADA are considered acts of discrimination for which your customer can file suit as a private/independent entity. If the courts find that you are neglecting your responsibilities under ADA, they will likely issue a court order directing you to achieve compliance. Your customer’s attorney may also file suit in civil court, in which case you could be ordered to pay damages to the customer as well. In either situation you would likely also be required to pay court costs if you lose, so this can become quite costly.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ)

The DOJ usually intervenes when a person files a compliant and there is a pattern of continued non-compliance. If they find that you are indeed violating ADA, you will be forced to make the necessary changes to reach compliance. The DOJ can also seek penalties of up to $75,000 for a first offense and up to $150,000 for subsequent violations.

Universal Design

Too many websites address accessibility by cobbling a few stopgap measures onto an existing site. Is color contrast an issue? Let’s add a black-and-white text-only version to the site. The layout won’t scale properly? Add a large-print version. After adding multiple language versions as well you suddenly find that your website has a half-dozen duplicates of itself. For website users, this becomes the equivalent of going to a restaurant and finding out they can only get their wheelchair inside by going through the kitchen, all because the owner couldn’t be bothered to make some modifications to the entrance. It’s frustrating for them and inefficient for you.

Instead, best practice in web design encourages us to incorporate access concerns like color contrast, hierarchy, and image use into one site version for users with and without disabilities alike; this simpler, universal design and structure is more user-friendly and shows people with disabilities that you value them as customers or participants. From a business perspective, universal web design also saves your budget by reducing the redundancies of multiple duplicate page versions.