What Is an ADA Website and How Can It Help My Law Firm?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 gives detailed guidelines on business and government accessibility. An ADA-compliant website would follow these guidelines — a necessity if the law applies to your operation. In terms of business growth, being proactive with web accessibility could increase your exposure, generate referrals, reduce risk and help you compete in your practice area.
You probably already know you want people to access your site easily. Luckily, there is quite a lot of information about how you could do this. Please read on for a brief overview.
Understanding Accessibility Standards
The Worldwide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were adopted by the DOJ for web standards under the ADA. They are relatively straightforward, at least on a conceptual level. An ADA-compliant website would be have content that people can:
- Interact with
- Access with various technology
Good web design will probably have made your website partially compliant already. Moving towards full accessibility could require more effort, such as testing input forms and providing captions for video content. If you want to achieve the elusive gold standard of the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, you will have to check all the boxes in three main categories:
- Visual design and user interface
- Presentation and composition of written content
- Markup and code
You might also want to consider the law when making your accessibility decisions. The first step is knowing what you should do, if anything, to be in compliance.
Decoding Your Responsibilities
State laws vary, and they are typically one of the more important considerations. Take Illinois, for example. The trend is towards compliance, with state universities already specifically mandated to enact accessibility by The Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act.
There is an ongoing discussion about ADA for websites across the country. It is informed by various documentation and conducted by interests in multiple industry sectors and branches of government, most notably:
- Relevant case law (Illinois and federal courts)
- WCAG (W3C)
- Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IDHS)
- ADA (DOJ)
As you can see, corporate interests, the legislature, non-profits, courts and the executive branch are all contributing. Also, ADA lawsuits about your website could still be a reality — regardless of the letter of the law.
One note: Although it may depend on the state in which you practice, compliance with the gold-standard accessibility guidelines is more likely to be required when contracting for federal or state governments.
It’s true that this issue is somewhat political — there have been some reversals as administrations and legislatures change. If you are worried about your possible exposure, it could be a good idea to check for the latest information about any laws that could apply to your specific practice.
Please contact FORWARD marketing at (888) 590-9687 us if you believe ADA compliance could be the right move for you. We will perform a technical and content-based analysis, clarify your development goals and help you put your vision into action.