With increased attention from HR departments, media outlets [including the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal] and a historic lawsuit, we have received numerous calls from prospective and current clients who are concerned about their websites being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in places of public accommodation. Businesses both large and small are affected by the ADA. While Title III of the ADA is often known for its applicability to physical barriers such as lack of wheelchair access, acceptance of service animals, effective communication for hard-of-hearing individuals and accommodations for the vision impaired, its focus in the digital age has turned to websites. Where a website is heavily integrated with physical store locations and operates as a gateway to the physical store locations, courts have found that the website is a service of a public accommodation and is covered by the ADA. Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Target Corp., 452 F.Supp.2d 946, 953-55 (N.D. Cal.2006).
In addition to mitigating the legal risk, there is an upside marketing-wise to making your website more accessible to the 39+ million people that live with a disability in the United States.ADA Public Accommodations Website Accessibility Trial
On June 12, 2017, a federal judge in Florida ruled that Winn-Dixie, a supermarket chain based out of Florida, was liable under Title III of the ADA. Its website was not compliant because it could not be accessed by the visually impaired via a screen reader. The Court awarded the plaintiff injunctive relief and attorney fees. The judge also ordered that Winn-Dixie make changes to its website to ensure compliance with the WCAG 2.0 standard. See below. Moreover, the court ruled that the Winn-Dixie website must be accessible by individuals with disabilities who use computers, laptops, tablets and Smartphones. Download and read the case here.
According to the WSJ, since the beginning of 2015 more than 350 US businesses from large retailers to small companies in all industries have been sued in federal court over website accessibility. Most companies settle for between $10,000 and $75,000 for legal fees & costs. They then must take on the cost of modifying their website to be assessable to the disabled. No doubt that the number of federal lawsuits alleging inaccessible websites will dramatically increase because of this ruling.Is this a demographic I should include?
A recent study by Level Access presented at the CSUN 2017 Assistive Technology Conference found that people with disabilities in the age range of 21 to 64 represented a total market of $810 billion. They accounted for roughly 12% of the market in this age range. People with severe disabilities in the same age range represented a total market of $471 billion as well as accounted for 7% of the market in their age range. Since disability does not discriminate based on race, social class, industry or age a website should always be prepared to accommodate for this important population.
Having an inaccessible website will often result in disabled users leaving the site because of poor customer care and a perceived lack of understanding of their needs. In the same study mentioned previously, 85% of participants limited their web usage to sites they knew to be accessible. They were also more willing to spend money or engage in services with sites that were accessible to them, even if they ended up spending extra money.
The World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) provides a framework of how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. This was the standard that the Florida Judge used in his ruling on the Winn-Dixie case. It includes 12 guidelines that are organized under four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.Perceivable
To learn more about conformance, visit W3C.
At Marketing Metrics Corp., we assist businesses in making their website accessible and compliant with the WCAG 2.0 standards.
We’ve seen a substantial increase in new business sales since Marketing Metrics Corp. took over our marketing efforts. As a result, they are now also working with our sister company on a new start up. Dan Erschen, Wisconsin Metal Parts, Inc.
Marketing Metrics Corp. developed an on-going digital marketing strategy for us that helped us to bring in new business, increase our market visibility and grow our top-line revenue.
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