ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it was introduced in 1990. The act was meant to help people with disabilities gain access to all the things regular people have access to.
At the time, this act meant that places of business needed to modify their buildings in order to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. Being ADA compliant still means all of that, but it is evolving as time moves on to the point that online websites need to make the same kind of modifications.
The Internet has become more than a luxury but rather a necessity. This means people with certain disabilities also deserve access to the web and all the sites available. The following are a few reasons why it is important that your website becomes ADA compliant.
Wider Target Audience
The first thing you need to remember about becoming ADA compliant is the number of users out there who encounter access barriers on your site. You cannot make it hard for the millions of users out there who have trouble hearing, reading, or have other issues that make it hard to browse your site as it was intended to.
It is estimated that there are around 50 million people in the United States alone with some kind of disability. A chunk of those individuals might be attempting to gain access to your site but find it difficult because you are not ADA compliant. It may not seem too important for you to invest in ADA compliance, but hopefully, you rethink that position now that you know how many people might need this, and all you need to do is look for a service that helps you earn that status.
There are a lot of barriers you might have to put up without even noticing; for example, those who have videos up but have not enabled captions might be making it hard for people who are hard of hearing to access your content.
SEO Refinement is Possible
An additional reason why ADA compliance is important is that it actually improves all of your SEO efforts. Most businesses know how important it is to make sure that you apply SEO principles to your site so that it stays relatively competitive on the Internet. There are a lot of websites out there that offer similar services or products, and SEO principles help you stand out.
ADA compliance means your site is going to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG. These guidelines are one of many things that search engines look for when accumulating search results for the user who might be searching for the content you are offering on your site. Not meeting these guidelines means the search engine is simply going to overlook your site, and that means you just lost a potential visitor.
All you are doing is getting the most out of your SEO by becoming ADA compliant, giving you another reason to care about this.
Online Reputation Improves
It is important that you recognize that your online reputation is quite valuable. Some small businesses know this, but there are some that do not understand the value of your online reputation just yet. Once you open up your page to additional visitors who value websites that make it easier to access content, then you are opening up to a better reputation.
These online visitors are going to be able to tell others how invaluable your site has been to them, and this could create an even better reputation through things like online reviews. The reality is that not all sites are ADA compliant, so these users are more than happy to highlight sites that have gone the extra mile to give people with disabilities access to their content.
Keep in mind that becoming ADA compliant is something your company can boast about, and that is going to look good for your company amongst your customers and clients. Sure, some clients or customers may not be directly affected, but doing this still makes you look like a considerate company, which is a good thing.
Usability Gets Better
A site that becomes ADA compliant is also going to become easier to use. ADA compliance is as much about giving access to people with disability as it is about improving navigation. Your pages are going to be improved so that they are easier to understand, which should improve comprehension amongst the disabled and non-disabled.
The site’s buttons and navigational keys are going to be easier to understand, which means faster site browsing for everyone. Online users love great usability across all devices, and that is exactly what you are going to be giving them by becoming ADA compliant. Keep in mind that great usability usually leads to more leads, and that is going to be quite beneficial for your site given enough time.
Yes, the ADA guidelines are a little outdated since they were introduced back in 1990, so some of them are not necessarily compatible with online usage. This is the reason it is mostly up to you to become ADA compliant. There are a lot of ways to do that, but the most basic is to be grade A ADA compliant, but you can shoot for grade AAA, which is considered the highest grade you can receive.
What you have to worry about if you do not take ADA compliance seriously is lawsuits. There are people out there who are fighting for access, and you can become a target if you are not compliant. Sure, most of the lawsuits being filed are against large companies, but that does not mean your site cannot be targeted if you are not compliant.
In the end, compliance is something that is probably going to become the norm at some point in the future. All you are doing is taking steps to become compliant now rather than later when it is mandatory.
You can tell how becoming compliant can help your online business in more ways than one, and you can see how it can help potential customers as well. It is a bad business policy to deny access to potential clients or customers, so there is no reason why you should wait to get your compliance grade.
Hopefully, some of these points convince you and guide you to compliance as soon as possible. Yes, it might cost you some revenue to become compliant, but think of it as an investment in your customers.