Website ADA accessibility: What businesses owners need to know

In 1990, U.S. lawmakers enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The legislation increased access for those with disabilities in workplaces, schools, businesses, public transportation and more. Now, almost 30 years later, the ADA is extending to a new area: company websites and mobile apps.

The legal grounds for accessibility

Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case where a blind man sued Domino’s Pizza because his screen-reading software couldn’t read the pizza company’s website or mobile app. The suit alleged that because he didn’t have the same access to Domino’s customer technology as other customers, the company was in violation of the ADA. An earlier 9th Circuit federal court sided with him. It ruled that the ADA not only applied to brick-and-mortar businesses (where wheelchair access is required, for example), but in the online marketplace as well.

The problem over website accessibility for those with disabilities isn’t new. In fact, the Justice Department at one time was working on guidelines for companies to follow in this area. However, that effort stalled in 2017, and since then, more lawsuits over ADA website compliance have been filed. In fact, according to The Washington Post, in 2018, 2,250 federal suits have been filed because of ADA violations for website accessibility.

What should businesses do to address website accessibility?

Many businesses are working diligently to get their websites ADA compliant. Their mission isn’t fueled only by the threat of facing a lawsuit, but because increasing their website accessibility also increases their reach to potential customers.

Another advantage of having an ADA-compliant website is that its features can boost a company’s SEO too, making the site easier for even more users to find.

For those business owners who just are launching a business, you can find companies that will design an ADA-compliant website for you. You also can find out more information on the topic through online research. This is just another area to consider when you want to start your business off on the right foot.