April 28, 2020
Why ADA Website Compliance Matters Now More Than Ever
With each passing day of the coronavirus pandemic, a new headline emerges on how consumer behaviors are changing now, or how they will forever be different in the future.
However, one important thing seems to have been left out of the conversation. The more people are forced to stay at home, the more they are turning to digital channels to stay fed, stay engaged, and stay informed. That’s an easy enough change for most Americans, but for those living with a disability, it could mean being shut out from essential goods and services. As much as we need to think about taking the necessary steps as a brand to survive this crisis, we also have to think about helping others in the same motion. This is a notice for marketers everywhere: ADA website compliance matters now more than ever.
What is ADA website compliance?
To read a comprehensive answer to this question, check out the complete guide to ADA website compliance we published recently. For now, here’s a quick primer to get up to speed. The American Disability Act (ADA) enacted in 1990 is a civil rights law that “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.” Initially written with brick-and-mortar services in mind, it has since extended to websites and other digital platforms.
The industry standard for measuring ADA website compliance is by adhering to WCAG guidelines, rules written by a private, global organization that outline the design and technical standards which make websites accessible. Things like ensuring high color contrast, writing alt text for images, and limiting animations are a few of the things WCAG considers. You can find the full, direct-from-source guidelines here.
“This is a notice for marketers everywhere: ADA website compliance matters now more than ever.”
Why is now an important time to consider ADA website compliance?
The answer is two-fold and simple.
First, online shopping has experienced a surge with the dawning of this new quarantine age. Transaction volumes in most retail sectors have seen a 74% rise in March compared to the same period last year, while online gaming has seen a staggering increase of 97%, according to analysis by ACI Worldwide. Cross-reference this rising trend with the fact that 1 in 4 Americans live with some type of disability, and we start to see the urgency behind ADA website compliance. It’s as much a savvy business decision as it is a moral imperative to ensure your website meets accessibility standards.
Second, consumer habits are formed after doing something repeatedly over time. That much is obvious. Self-quarantining, however, creates the not-so-obvious situation whereby trends that were already gaining steam before the pandemic (for example e-commerce, food and grocery delivery apps, digital content consumption, etc.) will accelerate, becoming second nature to new segments of consumers.
When this is all over—and it will be—you need to be ready to satisfy these new, digital consumer habits. If your website is not ADA compliant, you may only be ready to serve a fraction of your potential audience.
ADA regulations are not going anywhere
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made it clear that ADA regulations are still in place, despite the looming coronavirus pandemic. The shift to online services has suddenly and unpredictably gone from gradual to explosive. We can’t afford to shut out a large segment of people by moving forward with inaccessible websites and other digital platforms.
As consumer behaviors change at warp speed, marketers have to act just as fast. Now is the time to ensure our websites are ADA compliant so that the future we build is a future for all.