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Business websites and compliance with the ADA

Many business owners in Florida may already be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it applies to their companies. The ADA requires businesses to provide equal access to all people, including those with disabilities. For example, an entrance to a store may have a ramp to accommodate those in wheelchairs, and a parking lot may contain special parking spaces for the disabled. However, some business owners may not be aware that the terms of the ADA also apply to their company’s website.

Having an ADA compliant website is crucial, since Forbes reports that the number of lawsuits being filed against businesses by deaf and blind web users is on the rise. In addition, there has been no consensus among courts across the country as to which type of businesses must have websites that comply with the ADA. Some have found that requirements do not apply to web-only business, only those that are tied to a brick-and-mortar location. Other courts have ruled just the opposite and maintained that a business does not need to have a physical location in order for the ADA to apply.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that guidance from the federal government is lacking. The Department of Justice announced in 2010 that it would be drawing up a formal set of rules on this issue. However, it is now anticipated that those regulations will not be issued until 2018. Until that time, it will remain up to the courts to interpret how the ADA applies to websites.

In the meantime, Business.com warns that business owners may wish to examine their websites to identify areas that could be an issue. An ADA compliant website should include captions and transcripts for any video content. It should also have an option to view the site in text-only mode, as well as an option to resize the text to make it easier to read.

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