Making Sure Your Law Firm Website is ADA Compliant
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensured that facilities were accessible to people who needed physical accommodations, like elevators and wheelchair ramps. This Act essentially protected people with disabilities from discrimination. With the increase in technology, it’s necessary to take similar actions in the digital world, ensuring your website is accessible to persons with visual and hearing impairments.
While ADA compliance was important before the pandemic, the pandemic has certainly increased the awareness of the need for more accessibility online. Children were sent home to learn only to find that their lessons were even more difficult because of their specific disabilities. Employees left the office and found themselves at a disadvantage when it came to certain websites and apps. The world went remote, and it was much harder for some.
In fact, ADA accessibility lawsuits and complaint letters increased drastically during this past year, leaving many organizations and companies wondering how to make their sites more accessible to everyone.
This article walks through what an ADA Compliant website looks like, why it’s important, and how hiring a digital marketing agency can help you get and stay compliant.
What Are the Basic Legal Requirements of ADA Compliance?
While ADA regulations don’t specifically mention website requirements, the Department of Justice regularly points to recommendations like Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and 2.1 developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is an international organization that supports the creation and recommendations of the website/online standards.
They suggest guidelines to make websites more accessible to people with disabilities, like including audio content, captions, and using specific colors to enhance readability.
The WCAG is broken into four primary categories:
1. Perceivable – Information should be presented in a way the website user can perceive
2. Operable – The user should be able to navigate and access all functions of the site
3. Understandable – The user should be able to understand the information and the interface of the site
4. Robust – Website content should be robust enough to be interpreted by a large range of users and technology used to assist them (like screen readers)
ADA Compliance and the Law
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and many other U.S. courts have declared that commercial websites are bound by ADA regulations. This is because the ADA requires auxiliary aids in communication, which the courts have interpreted to include online video and website accessibility. In 2018, there were over one thousand lawsuits related to website accessibility, which impacted several large companies, including Winn Dixie, Nike, Hershey’s, and Burger King.
You may be thinking that your website doesn’t fall into the “commercial” category. It may be possible that your law firm does not have to legally comply with the ADA if the firm is not included in Title II requirements. This section of the ADA covers disabled access to public accommodations and facilities, which includes the internet. This states that ADA applies if the business has at least 15 employees and operates at least 20 weeks per year.
Even if your law firm doesn’t fall into this category, it’s a good idea to ensure your website is accessible. Accessibility complements your marketing strategy, too.
How Does Being ADA Compliant Enhance Marketing?
ADA Compliance supports your website in more ways than one. Not only does it increase inclusivity efforts and mitigate risk, ensuring proper accessibility requirements are in place means better marketing. An accessible website can enhance your marketing efforts in the following ways:
1. Increase search engine optimization (SEO) efforts – Google and all other major search engines take into account whether a site is ADA compliant. It’s a big component that decides where your site ranks in the search results.
2. Boost your target audience reach – According to adata.org, 54 million Americans have a disability. Having a website that is navigable for all naturally increases your potential audience.
3. Enhances your reputation – For the disabled community and advocates, having an inclusive website enhances your overall reputation.
ADA compliance is a top law firm website marketing trend of 2021. Cover all your bases today and make sure your website includes the latest trends and updates.
An ADA Compliance Checklist for Your Law Firm
There are a number of things you can do to ensure your website is accessible for everyone. Hiring a digital marketing agency can support you in implementing the following checklist item. It can also help you in monitoring and maintaining your compliance for the long term. This checklist will give you a good start on ADA compliance.
1. Alt Tags – Alt tags describe all images, videos, audio files, and other website items for the visually impaired. Properly implemented alt tags help search engine visibility, too.
2. Video Transcripts – For those with difficulties hearing, text transcripts for video and audio files help a great deal. This supports an SEO strategy, as well.
3. Correct Color – People with color blindness have difficulty reading text that has too little contrast. Ensure that all your fonts and backgrounds have enough contrast.
4. Form labels – Form labels included on the inside of the field are easily missed by screen readers. Place your form labels on the outside of your field.
5. Keyboard Navigation – Some site visitors cannot use a mouse. Allow keyboard navigation to enhance website accessibility. Some keyboard navigations include the arrow, enter and tab keys.
6. Website Language – Identify the language of your website. Some screen readers are multilingual. Identifying the default language of your site can enhance accessibility.
These ADA tips are just the beginning. Consult a website partner today to implement a comprehensive checklist.
Call Oamii Today and Get ADA Compliant
For more compliance tips, contact a digital marketing agency like Oamii today. From promoting inclusivity to enhancing your law firm marketing strategy, ensuring you’re ADA compliant online has a lot of benefits. Making the changes on your website is not always an easy task. Consulting a digital marketing agency to help is advisable. An agency will also be able to monitor and maintain your ADA compliance. We welcome you to contact us at Oamii to help you market your firm and build your book of business. Please fill out our online contact form, or call us at 561-228-4111 today.