If your blog is not ADA compliant, there’s a strong chance that you are excluding your content from people with disabilities. While this may not seem like a big deal to some website owners, the reality of the situation is that you could be exposing yourself to lawsuits and potential penalties, as well as a host of unfavorable PR that can come your way if a visitor has a negative experience.
Bringing your blog up to ADA compliance can help you find success in many ways, which is why it is within your best interest to put measures in place for those who need them.
What is ADA compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a United States law passed in 1990. It is one of America’s most comprehensive civil rights bills, prohibiting discrimination and ensuring that persons with disabilities have the same opportunity to participate in the mainstream of American life as everyone else. When it was first enacted, the law covered a wide range of aspects of accessibility for disabled people, with Title III being the most frequently cited.
Title III of the ADA addresses public facilities such as education, transportation, and “public accommodations.” These accommodations cover establishments such as bars, restaurants, and gyms. This necessitates that business owners must make provisions for people with impairments, both employees and customers. However, while this bill successfully reduced discrimination in the physical world, it had little impact on the digital world until 2017.
Since 2017, there has been a broad consensus that the ADA also applies to the online world, which means that website owners are subject to the same duty to make accommodations for disabled people as a physical business owner would be. Therefore, if you own a website that operates in the United States (even if it is just a blog), this law applies to you. However, the good news is that there are distinct benefits to achieving ADA compliance, some of which may surprise you.
On that note, here are five of the most substantial advantages:
It increases your target audience.
According to the CDC, over 61 million adults in the USA have some form of disability or impairment. That’s roughly 26% of the population. As a result, if your website is not ADA compliant, you will undoubtedly be excluding a large demographic of people from your service.
To make matters worse, disabled people make up one of the most wealthy demographics globally since they tend to have access to large quantities of disposable income. Thus, if you use your blog to generate an income by selling products or services, then attaining an ADA compliant blog may just be one of the smartest business decisions you could make.
You will be protected against lawsuits
2021 was a record year for web accessibility lawsuits. According to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, 2,353 unique cases were filed against US businesses, which was a 14.3% increase from the previous year.
And while you may think that your small blog is out of the crosshairs, you may want to think again. As it turns out, the majority of big businesses have already woken up to the threat of this litigation and have brought their websites up to compliance. As a consequence, the focus is now shifting to small and medium-sized businesses, which may include your website. Better to be safe than sorry!
It can help boost your PR
Just as getting sued for discrimination can hurt your PR, being seen to take a stance against it can have the opposite effect.
If you’re attempting to build a brand and increase the viewership of your blog, striving for ADA compliance and taking a public stance against discrimination will certainly help set you in good stead.
It improves the user experience.
In order to achieve ADA compliance, your blog must pass a series of tests. These tests are typically used to verify that your website meets the guidelines set out in the WCAG 2.1, which is the universally accepted recommendation for web accessibility.
In short, these guidelines explain the kind of accommodations you need to make for your visitors. This includes things such as making your website navigation straightforward, reducing contrasting colors, ensuring all content is legible, and ensuring compatibility with screen readers and keyboard navigation. As you may have noticed, these provisions not only benefit disabled people but also improve the experience for all users that visit your blog.
It may boost your SEO performance.
Lastly, an ADA-compliant website may yield better results on the SERPs. That is because many of the same adjustments that you have to make to reach compliance also lend themselves well to SEO optimization.
For example, things such as alt text on images, video transcripts, well-structured content and headers, and simple navigation are all crucial factors when it comes to ranking on the search engines. Therefore, if you want to increase the reach of your blog and drive more organic traffic, then ADA compliance may be a great place to start.
ADA compliance is becoming an increasingly important issue for website owners. Even if you run a small blog, it’s essential that you put measures in place to accommodate disabled users so that you are not exposing yourself to potential lawsuits and penalties.
With that said, there are plenty of benefits to making provisions for those with impairments, such as an increased target audience, better SEO performance, and even the chance to boost PR. And if all that wasn’t enough for you, just remember that inclusivity for those with disabilities is simply the right thing to do.