What are the risks of not having an ADA-compliant website?

July 5, 2022

Renita Joan

What are the risks of not having an ADA-compliant website?

ADA-compliant websites provide fair access to persons with disabilities and protect your company from any legal ramifications that may arise due to non-compliance.   

97.4% of the top one million websites on the internet do not provide complete accessibility. 

If your website serves a general audience, ADA compliance or an accessible website is essential. It can keep you out of any legal implications. If you’re still unaware of this, you could be among the 62.8% of firms whose websites have serious issues on user accessibility. 

Importance of an ADA Compliant Website 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights statute that forbids discrimination based on disability. The law ensures that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as the rest of the population. To be compliant with the ADA, a website must be accessible to those who use assistive aids to browse the web. It’s against the law if your website isn’t accessible to persons with impairments. 

Because of the way the law is written, having a website that isn’t accessible to everyone or doesn’t comply with ADA guidelines will be considered active discrimination. You are risking and could be fined if you overlook the needs of people with impairments.  

According to several laws, companies’ websites must provide reasonable accessibility as if they were a physical storefront. A lawsuit based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was relatively unusual in the past. However, the number of cases has increased dramatically in recent years by 15%. 

In the last four years, an ADA-based digital complaint was filed against 412 Internet Retailer Top 500 companies on at least one of their brands. Additionally, 74% of ADA-related web accessibility cases were filed against E-commerce sites. 

It’s possible that your website will be targeted as part of a wave of lawsuits aimed at obtaining compensation from firms that aren’t ADA compliant. The severity of the violation determines the outcome of an ADA case. In extreme cases, ADA lawsuits have been known to result in settlements of up to $25,000. However, if other issues are identified, the remedy for large organizations might add up to $1,000,000 in total. 

In addition to these penalties, companies should also account for the cost of a lawyer to represent you in court, which may be as much as $1,000 per hour. This adds more financial burden to your business and affects your reputation as well. 

ADA lawsuits stats

Is ADA Compliance Necessary for your Websites? 

While there are certain exceptions, most sites that individuals are accessing daily must comply with the ADA. ADA compliance is obviously necessary for websites in two categories, based on how the courts and the Department of Justice have interpreted the ADA thus far: 

  1. State or municipal government websites, or websites that they finance. 
  2. Websites for Businesses. 

Title III claims are lawsuits filed against company websites, including private businesses. 

What Is a Website That Isn’t Accessible? 

The ADA’s Title III should be familiar to every business. Every business must make reasonable accommodations for those with impairments.  

Does your company have a physical location as well as an online presence? If this is the case, your website must also be accessible to persons with impairments. 

If text-to-audio and audio-to-text services are unavailable on a website, it may be rendered inaccessible. If you do have such features available, sometimes unfortunately, they might also be incompatible with devices and software that can display them. If your website does not work with a screen reader, legal precedence suggests you may be in violation of ADA standards. 

Consequences of non-compliance with the ADA 

Here are a few ADA-related repercussions of violating website compliance expectations you should be aware of: 

1. Legal Fees
Attorney fees will be pricey enough if a firm chooses to defend itself in court. Consider that if the company loses, it will most likely be responsible for the plaintiff’s attorney expenses and other costs. 

ADA accessibility non-compliance is believed to cost the corporation more than $15 million in personal legal costs.

2. Implementation of Accessibility
Few businesses have been able to fight back so far. The court will order the corporation to improve website accessibility as a result of the lost legal battle. 

On the other hand, making a website compatible comes with a cost, which is likely why numerous huge corporations never modernize their online stores.  

The cost of making your website accessible varies depending on its size and the upgrades required. On average, the initial audit costs roughly $500 for a small website and can go up to $10,000 for extremely large domains. 

Businesses could have saved $200,000 on the website upgrade if they had made the improvements ahead of time. 

 3. Employee Training
Let’s say you didn’t think about accessibility when it came to your website. However, your physical storefront might be fully compliant with ADA guidelines. The court may order that you adopt an ADA employee training program despite this. 

This may seem absurd, yet there is a legal precedent for this. Companies are obliged to include not just the cost of upgrading the website and paying their lawyers but also to spend on hiring an accessibility coordinator and providing ADA staff training. So even if your digital website is not at fault, it may necessitate training at your workplace.

4. Civil Charges
If your website is inaccessible, your company may have to pay a fine to the government. When a firm violates the ADA accessibility standards, it can expect to spend between $55,000 and $75,000 in fines. Repeated transgressions result in penalties of up to $150,000. These fines include the money paid to plaintiffs and attorney expenses.

5. Brand Reputation
Bad press, in addition to hefty fines and legal fees, can significantly influence your company’s success and reputation. It’s necessary to comply to make your business an ADA compliant Business website. Save money and your brand image by spending on website accessibility features instead of paying high fees. 

The ADA does not provide benchmark criteria for online accessibility, but most legal experts recommend that you use the WCAG accessibility guidelines. The WCAG (Website Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a set of guidelines for web designers to build fully accessible websites. 

However, you’ll want to hire an expert if you want to learn more about WCAG and what precise adjustments need to be made to your website. Several ADA compliance services are available to assist you in identifying website noncompliance and guiding the building of a better website. 

Learn how we enhanced a pizza company's web & mobile apps with a full ADA audit, achieving WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility

Learn how we enhanced a pizza company's web & mobile apps with a full ADA audit, achieving WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility

Final Thoughts 

Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is critical to ensure that your company fulfils its legal duties. However, when you’re developing your site, don’t simply think about the rules; imagine yourself in the shoes of someone with a disability and consider which aspects of your site would be challenging for them. 

To start building an easily accessible website and save your brand name and your company from legal problems, get in touch with our experts today! 

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