One of the biggest problems facing today’s online business is not having a website adaption ready when it comes time to launch your site. Most businesses have no problem launching a physical location in town, but when it comes to an online presence, adapting to the changing times can present many hurdles. Of course, with the Internet so popular, making every website ADA compliant is not exactly realistic either. But even if you’re a small to medium-sized online business owner or an independent digital publisher who wants to reach a large global audience with his or her site, you should be aware of both the advantages and the potential dangers of not adhering to the law. The good news is that there are ways to make sure your website adaption is 100% ADA compliant, while the bad news is that it may take a little longer than you might expect.
The ADA, which is the Americans with Disabilities Act, was enacted by Federal law in 1990 and applies to all state and local government entities as well as private businesses. As defined by the ADA, individuals with disabilities have the right to access all public programs and services, regardless of whether the information is presented in a wheelchair or other accessible mode. For example, if you’re providing home health care services or elder care services, ADA compliant residences, care facilities, and agencies will certainly allow you to provide services to those in wheelchairs.
This law has certainly helped advance the rights of those with disabilities, but it also has opened the door for those who want to sue employers or websites. If a person feels they were discriminated against because of their disabilities, they have the right to sue in order to get compensation. In order for this to happen, the person must file the lawsuit within a certain period of time after becoming a victim. It is important to note that the rights protected under the ADA do not extend to employers who are merely exercising ‘due diligence’ when hiring new employees. They are still free to discriminate against someone, even if they have fulfilled all of their hiring responsibilities.
It should be noted, too, that the ADA does not bar local governments from developing disability accessibility guidelines or even requiring them to do so. Many cities and municipalities have already adopted their own policies, although many are not actually considered compliant. Businesses and cities may not have any ‘duty’ to make their facilities fully ADA accessible. Individuals filing lawsuits may not even be entitled to compensation based on their disability if the website or business wasn’t appropriately ADA compliant. The fact is that because everyone’s circumstances are different and because the law itself is rather vague, there’s no sure way to know whether or not a website is ADA compliant.
Some businesses and cities have actually gone as far as putting regulations on when a building or facility must be ADA accessible. While there are some very valid reasons for having special access areas or windows, some buildings simply don’t need them. For example, restaurants that are open twenty-four hours a day cannot be expected to be fully ADA compliant. In many cases, courts have ruled that because individuals who use restaurants don’t have the same ability to enjoy their time there as people without disabilities, businesses that have regular meals cannot make their establishments accessible to them.
There are also websites that are accessible to those with diabetes, but those types of people have to search through government and other resources to find them. With ADA accessible websites, you can just choose to go to the site, enter your information, and get everything you need right away. No waiting around for help or dealing with difficult insurance representatives. You’ll only have to take advantage of what the site has to offer and sign up for your account. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be ready to access disability by public accommodations websites.
Unfortunately, there are still some ADA website accessibility lawsuits out there. This has largely been due to those who didn’t understand what the guidelines were or didn’t care about them. It seems that these individuals feel more comfortable going to a business that won’t permanently affect them in one way or another. However, these businesses may be in violation of the law if they refuse to make their websites wheelchair accessible.
The guidelines for ADA website compliance are not something that should be taken lightly. While individuals with disabilities have the right to access public accommodations and businesses that make their wheelchair accessible, they must do so in accordance with the law. Businesses that disregard the guidelines may be fined, forced to redesign their websites, or both. If your business doesn’t follow the ADA guidelines, contact a lawyer who specializes in this type of law. He or she can guide you through the process and help ensure that your business is complying with all of the law’s requirements.