When setting up a new website for your business, there are a lot of factors that you'll need to consider and requirements that you'll need to check off your to-do list. Business owners and amateur web developers often overlook an important one: making sure that the website is ADA compliant.
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This isn't just an optional courtesy that you can choose to put in place to help visitors with disabilities. The law has required since 2010 that websites, as the virtual equivalent of public spaces, be made accessible to users with disabilities. As such, failure to comply with the regulations can lead to expensive lawsuits and hefty fines that are better off avoided.
So, now that you understand the importance, how does one go about making sure that their business's website is compliant with the law and fully accessible to users with disabilities? We've got all the answers for you down below. Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
- How much does ADA compliance cost?
- What Does it Mean for a Website to be ADA Compliant?
- How Can ADA Compliance Help Your Business?
- What Modifications Can Make Your Website ADA Compliant?
- How Much Do These Modifications Cost?
- Is ADA Compliance an Ongoing Process?
- How to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
- In Summary
- Protect Your Business by Taking the Next Step Toward ADA Compliance
How much does ADA compliance cost?
The cost of making your website accessible will vary based on its size and the necessary upgrades. In general terms, the range of costs for the initial audit starts at around $500 for a smaller website and can be as much as $10,000 for particularly large domains.
For the actual upgrades, smaller websites requiring simple, relatively non-invasive changes can cost as low as $3,000 to make compliant. However, many sites require more comprehensive alterations which can run the bill up to as much as $50,000. You'll need to get an estimate from an auditor or developer to be able to budget for these expenses.
What Does it Mean for a Website to be ADA Compliant?
A website's ADA compliance refers to how well it falls in line with the requirements delineated in the Americans with Disabilities Act 2010 update regarding online accessibility. Essentially, your site needs to be able to be navigated by all users and have special accommodations that can assist users with disabilities.
When it comes to online accessibility, this generally applies to users with hearing difficulties and visual impairments. Luckily, there are a number of standard features that can be applied to your site to meet these needs, but the process can be a bit tricky. Developers should refer to the ADA text itself for the specific requirements that must be adhered to.
How Can ADA Compliance Help Your Business?
Complying with the online accessibility standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act is important for allowing those with visual and hearing impairments to be able to interact with these websites to the same degree as those without. However, they are not the only people who can benefit from these improvements.
Businesses that do not comply with these guidelines have been known to receive lawsuits that have a high chance of being won by the plaintiffs and cause the guilty companies to incur hefty fines and legal restitution. As such, it is in every company's best interest to adhere to the government requirements so as to avoid any potential financial or legal consequences that may arise in the future.
Additionally, more users having sufficient access to your business's webpage means more people purchasing your goods and services. So, really it's a win-win situation, because users with disabilities will have an easier time navigating your site, and you'll increase your client base and multiply your profits in the process.
What Modifications Can Make Your Website ADA Compliant?
Thanks to technological innovations in the past decade that have aimed to improve online accessibility for the hearing and visually impaired, there are several useful features whose inclusion has come to be seen as standard protocol for website design. Probably the most basic of these considerations is including the ability to enlarge font sizes to make pieces of text easier to see for those who need it. Text-to-speech capabilities are also absolutely necessary for users with severe visual impairments.
You'll also need to make sure that your website is compatible with certain keyboard navigation features relied upon by users who would otherwise have difficulty using a mouse or trackpad. Another simple but much-needed consideration is including alt-text describing the content of images as well as subtitles or transcripts for any videos or audio recordings.
How Much Do These Modifications Cost?
Unfortunately, making all of the necessary changes to a website in order for it to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act tends to be an expensive endeavor. The total cost will of course depend on the size of the website, the specific programs used, and how many pictures or videos there are. However, it's not unheard of for this process to cost tens of thousands of dollars, especially if you hire a programmer to make the changes manually.
It begins with an audit of the existing site to get a clear picture of what needs to be done, which can cost up to ten thousand dollars. The actual modification process can cost as much as fifty thousand dollars, depending on a variety of factors. Thankfully, there are new innovative software solutions available that make achieving compliance more financially feasible. We'll look more at the specifics down below.
Is ADA Compliance an Ongoing Process?
As long as you continue to add content to your website, and as long as the Americans with Disabilities Act continues to be updated to account for previously unconsidered accessibility requirements, you will need to continuously reevaluate your site for compliance. Luckily, ongoing maintenance and upkeep are easier and more affordable than a total accessibility makeover, but it is still a factor that needs to be accounted for.
Many companies hire an auditor or consultant who can monitor their web pages on a continuous basis and offer guidance and tech solutions to make sure their site is always compliant with the requirements.
How to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
For someone without any sort of background in web design or computer programming, the idea of incorporating all of these accessibility features might seem a little overwhelming. How do you even get started? Don't worry, we have the solution. Here is a three-pronged approach that we feel works best for achieving the most thorough, efficient, and affordable accessibility makeover for your website.
Read our detailed guide on How to Make Your Website ADA Compliant.
Hire a Developer
Hiring a professional web developer or agency is a great way to relieve yourself of the pressure of learning all of these complex computer skills yourself. While the cost is likely to be high, and you'll have to hire someone again when future updates are needed, it's a good option to have to ensure that your initial accessibility makeover goes smoothly.
DIY Options and Plugins
If you prefer to tackle this job on your own without hiring a developer, there are some very useful tools available that can help you with the process. Several different ADA Compliance plugins have been developed that can work for various website models and automatically fix some of your issues.
For instance, if you are building a WordPress site, the WP Accessibility plugin is a good tool for you to use. Of course, this will be a slower process than using a developer, and it isn't fully equipped to deal with all of your accessibility needs.
Finally, a widget like UserWay is a perfect quick solution for fixing accessibility issues with your site without completely altering the code or structure. Its limitations are similar to those associated with plugins, but it is still a useful tool to rely on when handling the web development process on your own. For most websites, these types of solutions will cost about $49/month and typically take 10-15 minutes to setup.
For more information on how these solutions work, check out our UserWay review.
In order to keep your business safe from legal action and make sure your website is navigable for all users, you must comply with the requirements set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding online accessibility. Using a third-party ADA solution like UserWay is your best bet way to save money and also maintain continuous compliance.
The cost of compliance is rather high, but it's nothing compared to the money you'll save avoiding legal fees and the profits you'll receive when you include users with disabilities in your client pool.
Protect Your Business by Taking the Next Step Toward ADA Compliance
So, you've seen your options, and you understand that ADA compliance is an important and non-negotiable part of web design. Now it's time to get started! Make the first move towards ADA compliance today and ensure that your business is protected and your website is accessible to all users.