ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) came into existence in 1990 for avoiding any discrimination towards disabled people. Here, disability may refer to physical or mental disability. According to ADA, the term “disability” can be defined as “individual suffering” from any physical or mental impairment which might limit his/her any life activity.
The physical disability may include visual, muscular issues, hearing issues, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, while mental disability may include cognitive disability, problem solving, dyslexia, etc.
ADA came into effect so that the disabled people may gain access to each product or service, similar to the non-disabled people. In early 1990s, there was no concept of “E-“. So, this Act was for physical outlets. The issues that ADA dealt where to check the accessibility of wheelchairs, adequate parking space for the disabled, and alike. Thus, ADA was a good initiative to remove any discrimination as well as providing equal opportunities to all.
In 1999, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Thus, the people who started to merge Internet with the businesses are compelling the web developers to make the E-commerce websites easily accessible for the people suffering from physical or mental disability, with the use of limited resources.
Today, WCAG 2.0 has set the standard for NGOs (non- governmental organizations). The Department of Justice is using WCAG 2.0 for judging easy accessibility and ADA website compliance in different court cases.
With great advancements in technology, all the products and services are growing out of E-commerce. Everything is accessible in this digital world. But this increasing accessibility is somewhere or the other, recreating the discrimination factor among the people.
There are around 57 million of the total population of America, accounting for 19%, which is suffering from either physical or mental disability. To bring down the discrimination level in the country, it is necessary to make the disabled people digitally accessible. Thus, the need is to get E-commerce websites ADA compliant.
E-commerce websites, from the origin of the concept of E-commerce, have followed the guidelines set up by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG has laid down the basic standards which every E-commerce website need to follow in order to survive from lawsuits, though WCAG does not contain any legal regulations. According to WCAG, the websites should follow four basic necessities:
Along with 60 criteria laid by WCAG, it has become important for the website developers to obtain ADA compliance. This is because ADA compliance websites can break the discrimination barriers on digital platforms.
The main aim behind ADA compliant websites is to bring the disabled as well as non-disabled people reach the same level of digitally accessibility, in the same way as the accessibility level that is present offline.
ADA compliant websites cover various types of business entities which include:
These business entities not only include physical products and services but also include digital products and services.
Owners of the website who offers services of human needs a powerful online presence with ADA compliance website to set up themselves for lawsuits.
With 19% disabled people in the country, the companies can imagine the range of the potential customers they might be losing. If the E-commerce website of the company is ADA compliant, then even the disabled people who want to try out those products and services can reach out to the company and become a potential customer for it. If the presentation is good and the product and service is easily accessible, the range of potential customers can be broadened.
If a website is ADA compliant, it can bring in a number of more customers. This is also the reason of making the website easily accessible. If a customer is happy and satisfied with the accessibility of the website, he/she would recommend the website in his/her friend circle, this would help in bringing a good reputation to the company. Thus, in comparison to other competitors, easy online accessibility can give a competitive advantage to the company.
Since September 2010, ADA is projecting various regulations for E-commerce websites. Each regulation is associated with lawsuits. Till date, there have been various lawsuits which have involved companies like Hotels.com, Target, Expedia, and Southwest Airlines as defendants. Today, when all the businesses have their website, it has become a compulsion that the websites at least comply with grade A, with highest among grade AAA.
Creating a more operable and navigable website will ultimately benefit all users while still meeting WCAG guidelines. Making the web pages easier to comprehend will allow everyone – disabled or non – to find what they are looking for quickly. If the web developer decides to follow the guidelines, the website will likely convert more leads across the board because the users will trust that they can always easily find the content they need.
With improvement in technology, search engines are getting better and refining the search according to the needs of the people. WCAG has laid foundation to add screen readers which can make the website easily accessible to the disabled people too. This will ultimately help to improve website SEO. It is necessary for the company to seriously consider the concept of Meta tagging, video transcripts, and alternate text for image.
It is necessary to adapting to ADA compliant websites not just because of the negative consequences, but also the businesses can profit for them as well. The easy online accessibility for the users can help to:
ADA website compliance is one of the challenging issues for online businesses because the Act has not yet been formally updated which could reflect its requirements for providing easy accessibility.
But ADA compliance is a legal requirement though it lacks clarity about how it should follow the norms laid. Still, many businesses are following the guidelines laid by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as an alternative for ADA web compliance. But a legal framework is necessary to justify ADA compliance.
Contact us if you are looking for ADA compliant ecommerce development which enhances user interaction and gives enjoyable user experience.
Established in 2010, Coreway Solution which is the Magento certified ecommerce web development company work with passion to bring your ideas to life.