First, a quick recap: Back in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by President George H.W. Bush.
Legislators specifically crafted this federal civil rights law to safeguard people with disabilities against discrimination in all public spaces, meaning they must have equal access to employment opportunities as well as access to information and facilities in all public places.
For example, commercial facilities must have a ramp for wheelchairs, braille markings on the information signages, etc.
As the years progressed, lawmakers made revisions to the ADA in response to the changing times. These amendments are still designed to protect all people and ensure everyone has the same opportunities for jobs and services, but today they encompass…you guessed it….the Internet.
In 2017, the Department of Justice included the application of ADA to electronic and online information. The US courts have interpreted the Title III of ADA to apply directly to websites, online stores, and internet portals.
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This means companies with websites are considered public accommodations, and therefore, they must design their online site so that people with disabilities can use it with ease.
Even in 2021, we’re still asking the question: So, what does this mean for business owners? Learn more below.
Main Reasons ADA Compliance Matters for Your Business in 2022 & Beyond
As a business owner, it is your job to comply with the tenets of the ADA legislation. Apart from minimizing liability, it is also important to open your business so that everyone can enjoy your goods and services. After all, the more people who can view your site, the bigger the profit, right? Here’s more on why ADA compliance is crucial:
Avoid Lawsuits and Penalties
There has been a surge in lawsuits in different states recently. Users have sued many businesses because they do not have ADA-compliant websites. The plaintiffs stated they were denied access to public information because they could not navigate the websites. Thus, any online domain must comply with ADA accessibility requirements.
The World Wide Web Consortium developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG. Websites are urged to follow the WCAG standard for web content and mobile apps. This means as a business owner, you must invest in developers who can redesign your websites with accessible interfaces.
For example, visual impairments such as low vision or total blindness may result in a user needing to use screen-reading technology. This screen reader does more than just read the text on the screen. It also interprets other images or visual cues to give disabled guests the full picture.
The primary goal of this assistive technology is to provide the user with multiple ways to access information on your site.
Remember, ADA compliance is mandatory under federal law. For this reason, first-time violators are fined severely. To emphasize the importance of ADA compliance, you can end up paying $150,000 for each violation as well as all the succeeding ones.
These stiff fees imposed by the Department of Justice assure that every business knows the importance of compliance and takes the necessary measures to make their facilities up to code. As a business owner, every expense eats into your profits and can adversely impact your company’s bottom line.
Create New Opportunities
All the lawsuits and fines equate to bad publicity, and that’s something you certainly don’t want for your brand! It’s hard enough as it is to build your business’s reputation. After all, people only patronize brands they trust. Thus, compliance is necessary if you don’t want to alienate the disabled community and their family and friends.
Notably, people often support companies that employ staff members with disabilities. This is because these brands are viewed as socially responsible and highly inclusive. And without fail, these brands follow ADA standards on their premises and online.
This kind of accessibility increases foot traffic and website traffic, which means more customers can enjoy your products and services, leading to higher profitability.
After all, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that one in four Americans are impacted by a disability, which means you open your business to one quarter more of the population by becoming ADA compliant.
Enjoy Tax Credits
The IRS or Internal Revenue Service offers various tax credits and write-offs for disability-friendly businesses. For instance, a company can take advantage of the Disabled Access Credit, which offers up to $5,000 for expenses made to provide more accessibility to people with disabilities. This includes expenses made on both physical and virtual locations.
On top of that, businesses that actively hire people with disabilities can avail themselves of the Work Opportunity Credit. Therefore, when you hire someone with a disability, you can get credit for up to the first $6,000 during the first year of the person’s wages.
Do What is Right
In the United States, 26% of the adult population lives with a form of disability. The ADA guidelines were drafted with basic freedoms in mind, which include freedom from discrimination for any reason. And concurrently, it promotes equal opportunities for every single person.
Not only is it the law, but it’s also the right thing to do for humanity. The community (including business owners) must uphold the law and make resources available to everyone. It doesn’t hurt that it’s great for your brand, too.