ADA Website Compliance: What You Need to Know (and How to Get Ahead)
Editor’s Note: Since ADA compliance is ever-changing, we are updating this blog post regularly to reflect any changes to ensure your website is ADA compliant. Be sure to bookmark this page to come back for continual updates.
Have you been recently contacted by marketing companies inquiring whether your website is compliant with the new ADA (Americans with Disabilities ActThe website for Americans with Disabilities Act. Opens in a new window.) requirements?
You probably have heard the horror stories of law firms suing small businesses and even big corporations (Apple, Nike, Netflix, etc.) saying their websites do not meet Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Even Beyonce was sued by a fan, saying her website “doesn’t provide features on its site to make it equally accessible to the blind and visually impaired.” *SOURCE Opens in a new window to Law.com
It gets scarier:
According to Seyfarth ShawOpens in a new window to the ADA Book’s website, the number of ADA Title III lawsuits from 2015 to 2018 has increased every year:
- 2015: 4,789
- 2016: 6,601
- 2017: 7,663
- 2018: 9,936
It’s predicted this number will far exceed 10,000 in 2019.
The implication made by these companies is that if your website is not fully ADA compliant, your practice may be opening itself up to a lawsuit.
Where do you go from here?
In this blog post, we will cover:
- What ADA compliance is
- WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards
- How your website can meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards
- How to claim your website as a tax credit
What is ADA compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990, requires all places of public accommodation, including retail stores, transportation, schools, and healthcare facilities, be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
An update to this law in 2010 has required, in some rare cases, that such accessibility is extended to websites offering services to the public.
However, that changed pretty quickly.
While the Department of Justice (DOJ) does not have set rules on what makes websites accessible, it has stated that all public websites should use the WCAG 2.0 Level AA Opens in a new window to the WCAG’s guidelines as the standard.
What is WCAG 2.0?
WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. It sets standards for website developers to follow to make websites ADA compliant. Three levels that set up a success criterion are: A, AA, and AAA.
As mentioned above, the DOJ considers Level AA the standard for websites to follow.
What does this mean for you?
As we mentioned before, WCAG 2.0 Level AA is considered a “guideline.” It is not the law.
It doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for rules to develop.
Organizations are encouraged to adjust their websites through the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines to help stay ahead of the curve.
If you took a look at the guidelines, you’re probably overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done with your website.
At Roadside, we’ve been doing extensive research into ADA compliance and are continuously updating our websites to meet those WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards.
- Adding meaningful descriptions to images for screen readers (alt tags)
- Adding closed captioning to videos with sound
- Avoiding images of text
- Giving users the ability to stop, pause, or hide automatic content
- Static web forms
- Creating clear titles and calls to action
- Producing readable content
- Making it easy to access your content in multiple ways
- Incorporating code that’s accessible for disability tools, such as screen readers
- Ensuring your website has clean code and is free from errors
How can your website meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards?
If you haven’t, we encourage you to add a Website Accessibility landing page on your website.
This landing page should address you’re working to make your website ADA compliant, provide multiple resources for anyone with disabilities to better access your site, and present your contact information if anyone needs to report an issue.
How does this benefit you?
- This landing page sets your practice ahead of the curve for future updates and may prevent drops in rankings and blockages of your site.
- This addition to your website, it helps gain your community’s trust as you cater to their specific needs. It also sets you apart as a true caregiver in the community.
- While this landing page does not make your website 100% ADA compliant, it does demonstrate you’re working toward making your website accessible to everyone.
You can also take advantage of our ADA Compliance Package, which includes multiple items to help make your website more accessible. This package includes:
- The creation of a Website Accessibility landing page (including optimization and indexing for easy access to webbots)
- Adding in a translation plugin to cover the top languages in your area
- Adding a button to the landing page in the footer to direct webbots and users to your landing page
- Installation of an accessibility plugin to conveniently provide the tools anyone with a disability needs to access your site
- Make coding and website updates to help meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards
BONUS: Upgrade your website to ADA compliance and get a 50% tax credit (up to $5,000)
You didn’t read that wrong.
If you upgrade your website to the ADA compliance guidelines, you’re eligible to claim up to a $5,000 tax credit.
The US Government is basically paying small businesses up to $5,000 (or 50% of costs) as a “thank you” for making the investment in upgrading their websites to be accessible.
The IRS states:
“This credit can cover 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year up to $10,250 (maximum credit of $5,000). The tax credit can be used to offset the cost of undertaking barrier removal and alterations to improve accessibility” *SOURCE Opens in a new window to the IRS website
A tax credit is NOT a tax deduction. A tax credit is basically cash in hand for you to deduct from your tax bill.
Let’s say you owe the US Government $10,000 in taxes. If you upgrade your website to ADA compliance and get a tax credit of $5,000, you can deduct it from your tax bill.
How can you claim this tax credit?
You or your accountant need to fill out Form 8826 Opens in a new window to the IRS website about Form 8826.
Here are some resources to share with your tax consultant:
- Download IRS Form 8826 Opens in a new window to IRS Form 8826
- Visit the IRS website Opens in a new window to the IRS website
- Call the Department of Justice ADA Information Line Opens in a new window to ADA’s website for their number
Invest in your website (and get paid for it!)
If you haven’t thought about making your website ADA compliant, NOW is the time to do so.
Keeping your website up to WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards not only helps protect you from lawsuits, but it rolls out the welcome mat to people who land on your websiteLearn about Roadside Dental Marketing’s websites. You’re giving all users access to your website to gain the information they need to learn about your services and how you can solve their problems.
Interested in our ADA Compliance Package?
Set up a call with Angela, and she would be more than happy to answer your questions.
The content in this blog should not be substituted for legal advice. Please seek out a tax professional to address your specific situation.