Ensuring that your website is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not just a legal requirement for some websites (although the law is evolving across the country). It’s a commitment to inclusivity. ADA compliance means making your website accessible to all users, regardless of their disabilities.
While some web developers may say that it is relatively easy to ensure ADA compliance when crafting a website from scratch, web developers, for the most part, do not understand the best practices to avoid lawsuits. That’s because web designers and developers are not attorneys and have not handled thousands of website lawsuits, so they do not know exactly how websites are targeted by ADA website plaintiffs and their lawyers. Web developers are an important part of the team, but they may suggest doing too much, and, at the same time, miss things that can be done to avoid a website looking like it has a violation.
More than technical compliance
It is not just about “technical compliance” which is often hard to define because web developers are only looking at “Guidelines” which, as “guideline” have no clear definitions. Even if 5 out of 5 web developers have the “opinion” that a website is “compliant, that does not stop the plaintiff from having a different opinion and then filing a lawsuit to seek a judicial ruling, and that can be expensive. The best approach is to have an attorney familiar with website lawsuits and the WCAG guidelines to lead the team to lower the risk of an ADA website lawsuit. The web developers will be an important part of the team, but they should not lead the team. In the meantime, the web developer can review your existing approach so he or she will get an idea of the scope of the work.
First, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), but remember they are only “Guidelines” and may not even apply to your website as a requirement. Your ADA website attorney can provide you with how the WCAG works and how best to integrate aspects of the WCAG if needed.
You’ll then want to conduct a thorough audit of your website, this may involve some automated testing and possibly manual testing.
Web accessibility is not a one-time task. Regularly review and update your website to ensure ongoing ADA compliance, especially when adding new content or features.