The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) first signed by George H.W. Bush, allows for equal opportunity for those with disabilities in employment, accessibility to goods and services and due to recent updates, accessibility on websites. The ADA protects all people from discrimination in state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation and telecommunications, as well as the U.S. Congress.
As previously mentioned, the ADA has recently added laws for website accessibility. The issues on websites can be broken down into the acronym POUR.
Perceivable: Any perceivable issues that make it difficult for people with disabilities unable to access information. An example of this is lack of audio descriptions for video content.
Operable: making a website operable means a company allows the website to be operated or navigated by anyone. An example of this is the navigation of their website via key-board only commands.
Understandable: Making sure the website can be easily understood by anyone. An example of this is allowing error messages to appear with a clear description of the error.
Robust: The ability to meet the changing needs of those with disabilities. An example of this is testing compatibility with all leading screen readers and ensuring that those capabilities can be upgraded in the future.
Further, all images on websites must have alt-text or an HTML code that describes what is going on in the image or the purpose of the image. It is important to note however, that the code that needs to be used is dependent on the image being used.
So, why would it be important for a company to comply with the ADA?
Well for one it is the law. If someone feels they were discriminated against or were unable to access a good or service they can file a complaint. If with Department of Justice finds your company in violation, you can be fined up to $150,000.
Sure it is the law, but by complying with the ADA companies are more willing to keep customers. About 1 in 5 Americans (56.7 million people) have been reported to have some sort of disability, and these numbers are on the rise. People with disabilities are also often apart of a tight-knit community, which allows for word of mouth advertising. Companies want to resonate well within these communities, so it is best to make everyone feel welcome and able. However, if a company does not resonate well within a disabled community it is at a loss because as previously stated 56.7 million Americans have reported to have a disability.
Further, in a 2015 Cone Communications survey, 81% of those outside of disabled communities are more willing to give business to companies actively showing they are being socially responsible. In other words, consumers are more likely to trust companies trying to do good for the community and the world. Which again, will keep consumers and benefit your company in the long run.
The IRS has also worked to make it financially possible for businesses to attain assets to make their company accessible for those with disabilities with a deduction up to $15,000 a year. With that, accessibility within your company does not have to happen over night and can be a process, again making it financially possible.
By making your company accessible to all the people you are benefiting the community; allowing everyone to participate and bringing the community together. With that, it is just the right thing to do. There is no reason why a company should be unwilling to comply with the ADA. Why would a company want to exclude anyone?
As previously mentioned, the ADA has recently added laws for website accessibility which offer full access to those people with different abilities. The internet is now for everyone.