Why Your Website Developer Can’t Confirm ADA & WCAG Compliance

By August 23, 2023December 3rd, 2023WCAG and ADA Compliance, WordPress
Computer with a gavel and legal scale

In today’s digital age, the significance of having an online presence cannot be overstated. For many, a website is the first point of contact they have with a business or service. As such, ensuring your website is accessible to all, regardless of ability or disability, is not just a mark of good business practice, but also a legal imperative.

Why is Website Accessibility Important?

Website accessibility, as emphasized by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensures that every user, including those with disabilities, can access and understand web content. According to the World Health Organization, over a billion people, or approximately 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability. This significant portion of the global population must not be overlooked.

From a business perspective, the rationale is twofold:

  1. Inclusivity and Broadened Audience Reach: A compliant website allows for a wider audience reach. This inclusivity not only opens doors to potential customers but also reinforces the brand’s values and commitment to serving all members of society.
  2. Legal Implications: Businesses face potential legal risks if their websites are not ADA compliant. In recent years, there has been an uptick in lawsuits against companies due to non-compliant sites. By ensuring your site meets these standards, you significantly reduce the risk of litigation.

Understanding the Limitations of a Web Developer in Compliance

It’s crucial to note that while I, as your web developer, can work towards making your website more accessible, I am not in a position to legally declare it ADA compliant. The realm of legal compliance is intricate, with nuances best interpreted by a lawyer specializing in ADA and digital accessibility.

To ascertain your website’s compliance status, the ideal route is to:

  1. Engage a lawyer well-versed in this domain.
  2. Receive recommendations on website updates based on their assessment.
  3. Loop back to me, your web developer, to implement those recommended changes.

However, it’s essential to remember that even with these steps, compliance can always be challenged. The digital landscape evolves rapidly, and what might be compliant today may need adjustments tomorrow.

Third-Party Solutions: A Helping Hand with Caveats

There are multiple third-party solutions on the market that promise ADA compliance. While these can be great tools to help your website become more accessible, I must emphasize that I cannot guarantee their claims. As previously mentioned, my expertise lies in the development of your website, not in legal advice. Therefore, while I can integrate these solutions for you, their compliance assurances remain their own.

One such solution I often recommend is accessibe.com. They provide a notable feature in the form of a Statement of Compliance. This document can be presented to anyone inquiring about your website’s compliance, offering a layer of trust and transparency.

Utilizing a solution like accessibe.com can potentially deter unwarranted legal accusations. Having a proactive approach to website accessibility can demonstrate your commitment to serving all users and may reduce the likelihood of facing legal challenges.

Some Eye-Opening Facts About Website Compliance

  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reported a considerable increase in web accessibility lawsuits from 2017 onward. (source)
  • A study revealed that 70% of websites had significant accessibility issues, potentially locking out users with disabilities. (source)
  • Having an accessible website can improve SEO, as search engines tend to favor sites that cater to a broader audience. (source)

More Than Just Compliance

ADA and WCAG compliance is not just about ticking a legal box. It’s about inclusivity, business growth, reputation management, and demonstrating a genuine commitment to serving all individuals equally. As your web developer, I am here to guide and support you in this journey. However, it’s vital to understand the clear distinctions between technical implementation and legal assurances.

By taking proactive steps, partnering with reliable third-party solutions, and staying informed, you can ensure your website not only serves everyone but also stands tall in the face of any compliance challenges.