ADA Web Accessibility Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a civil rights law created in 1990 to ensure people with disabilities were not discriminated against and guarantee equal access to all areas of public life. Over time, ADA standards expanded to the web and other digital assets. Learn more about ADA compliance and how your organization can test for accessibility.
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What is ADA Compliance?

The ADA protects individuals with disabilities by outlining legal standards of inclusion. By being ADA compliant, your business, organization, etc., meets the standards and allows everyone to engage and experience your products and services.

Over time, the accessibility requirements have expanded. The Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Standards for accessible design in September 2010. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities.

The ADA differs from Section 508 regulations, which amend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and apply to all information technology, including computer hardware, software, and documentation.

What are the ADA requirements for websites?

ADA compliance standards for websites are not as clearly defined by law as other elements of the civil rights law. However, previous references and rulings have outlined the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as the benchmark for digital accessibility.

WCAG standards continue to update and evolve over time. Currently, WCAG 2.1 are the best requirements to follow when creating an inclusive and usable website or digital asset. There are a few levels within the WCAG requirements, but Level AA is the best marker when outlining your accessibility goals.

Benefits of ADA Web Compliance

By incorporating accessibility into your business strategy, you can create more inclusive and barrier-free experiences for everyone. There are many benefits to being ADA web compliant, some common ones include:

  • Ensuring everyone has access to your digital assets.
  • Creating inclusive experiences for all.
  • Engage with potential customers you never could before.
  • Build brand loyalty.
  • Avoid legal risk

Who needs to follow these requirements?

The ADA standards apply to commercial and public entities that have “places of public accommodation” which includes the internet. The DOJ is currently determining the specific regulations but that does not mean website discrimination will be tolerated. The DOJ’s public position was clarified in the following statement made during the Netflix case:

“The Department is currently developing regulations specifically addressing the accessibility of goods and services offered via the web by entities covered by the ADA. The fact that the regulatory process is not yet complete in no way indicates that web services are not already covered by title III.”
— Statement of Interest of the United States Department of Justice in NAD v. Netflix (page 10)

Who does the law affect? 

  • Americans with disabilities and their friends, families, and caregivers
  • Private employers with 15 or more employees
  • Businesses operating for the benefit of the public
  • All state and local government agencies

How does a company comply with the ADA?

The ADA encourages self-regulation of accessibility standards, and the Department of Justice is currently developing regulations to provide specific guidance to the entities covered by the ADA. Organizations are encouraged to use the WCAG 2.1 level AA guidelines as a guide on how to become accessible until the DOJ defines the regulations.

Is my website ADA Compliant?

One of the first steps you can take is to learn more about the accessibility of your website, application, or digital products. Conducting an accessibility audit and review of your website will provide you with an in-depth overview of your website’s accessibility and guidance on what needs to be fixed and make it ADA Compliant. Schedule a call to speak with a TPGi accessibility expert or learn more about conducting an accessibility audit.