What are ADA Digital Accessibility laws, and what do they entail?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that addresses discrimination based on disability. The goal behind this act was to provide people who are disabled or have other marginalized identities in society access similar opportunities as everyone else to contribute their part towards building up our country’s future together!
Using technology is an essential part of everyday life for all people, including those with disabilities. Digital accessibility refers to the ease in navigating and understanding content on websites, mobile applications, or other electronic-based information that may be available through various platforms such as TVs, laptops etcetera; this includes features like closed captioning when videos are played back personally (and passively) by clicking CC below each dialogue box where applicable, also known as closed captions, alternative text descriptions which provide more detail about pictures/ tables found throughout online articles.
ADA Digital Accessibility laws are outlined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In 1998, Congress amended the act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to those with disabilities.
How have these laws been impacting businesses and organizations?
Approximately 61 million adults in the US report having a disability that impacts major life activities. Providing these individuals with an accessible user experience is suitable for potential business and sales increase and provides them with access to what many of us take for granted.
Some large tech companies have had accessibility programs since their inception. Take Apple, for instance. Early in the evolution of the iPad, Apple began developing a technology for the blind to use touchscreen devices. Known as VoiceOver, the world’s first gesture-based screen reader.
Barclays, a large multinational banking corporation, took on accessibility as part of its identity. They established an organization-wide accessibility strategy to help identify, anticipate and address the needs of all customers and employees regardless of abilities or circumstances. They even created an Accessible Banking YouTube playlist to help employees better understand disabilities.
Why is it essential for digital content to be accessible to everyone?
Accessibility to digital content has never been more relevant than it is today. COVID19 forced a significant change in how we shop and a large proportion of how we work. People with disabilities also need technology to perform even the basics of their job functions when working from home.
E-commerce saw a massive rise in sales in 2020, mainly due to the pandemic-related lockdowns. However, 2021 still saw year-over-year growth in all four quarters compared to 2020. Q1 saw a 39.1% increase over the 43.7% increase in 2020 compared to 2019. While growth has slowed, there is still consistent growth happening.
Providing access to e-commerce for those with disabilities is crucial for success in the e-commerce space. However, e-commerce is not the only digital space that increased usage during the pandemic. Government websites also saw a whopping 57% increase (14.82 billion to 23.33 billion) in traffic when comparing March 11, 2020 — March 10, 2021, to March 12, 2019 — March 10, 2020. The main driver of this increase was two-fold. The government increased content, and the public actively searched for this content. Of course, the thirst for COVID19 related content was not restricted to those without disabilities. It was imperative to ensure that this information was accessible to everyone.
What can you do to make your website or content more accessible?
You can and probably already do many things without knowing it regarding making your site more accessible. For instance, you are probably already adding alt text to your images and using colors that are easily visible on your page, etc.
However, there are many things that should probably be done to your site to ensure full accessibility. Some of these changes you may not even realize or know about. It is best to have your site scanned and tested by a trusted section 508 tester for complete compliance.
Eminent Future is staffed with trusted testers to help with any needed testing. You can even sign up for a free preliminary test of your website. Accessibility is not just about your websites; even your public-facing PDFs and other documents need to be accessible as well.
Examples of how businesses have failed to comply with ADA Digital Accessibility laws
June 23rd, 2021. A blind man sued Domino’s Pizza LLC because his screen reader could not operate on some sections of their website, hindering him from ordering a pizza. One of its employees sued the Department of Homeland Security for discrimination in 2009. The National Federation of the Blind and a University student sued Target in 2006 for $6 million, plus lawyer fees of $3.7 million. The Judge in the case stated, “plaintiffs have broken new ground in an important area of law” and noted that the “litigation [extended] important areas of disability law into an emerging form of electronic commerce that promises to grow in importance.”
2020 saw the onset of COVID driving people to rely upon online means of both working and shopping extensively. This also included, of course, those with disabilities. ADA lawsuits regarding websites increased 21% in 2020 compared to 2019 (2890 to 3503) and another 15% in 2021 compared to 2020 (3503 to 4055).
ADA Digital compliance is the legal thing to do, and it is the right thing to do. Our world is growing increasingly digital every day. Inclusion of those with disabilities in this digital lifestyle gives them access and opens an entirely new network of friends and associates we can all benefit from. Sign up now for a free preliminary test to begin getting on the right track.