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ada complianceYou’re likely familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was passed by the federal government in 1990 to protect people who require physical accommodations from discrimination. But did you know that ADA compliance extends to websites? In fact, failure to create an ADA compliant website could open your firm up to lawsuits, financial liabilities and a damaged reputation. It can even hinder your ability to rank above your competition on search engines. Read on to learn more about how the ADA may affect your law firm and how you can optimize your website for ADA compliance.

Title III of the ADA states that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility of a website means ensuring that individuals who are visually impaired, hearing-impaired or those who must navigate by voice are still able to meaningfully engage with the content on your website. This means you must learn about website accessibility and make adjustments on your site accordingly. The good news is that many of these tactics are big SEO-helpers as well, and not difficult to implement. Below, we dive into how lawyers and legal marketers can ensure their law firm website is ADA compliant, as failure to do so may lead to unintentional and costly consequences.

ADA Compliance Success Criteria:

Alternatives:

This means that any content format has an alternative. For example, images have alt text, and videos have text transcripts attached. Use closed captions and audio descriptions for audio files or video.

Presentation:

Tactics in this segment surround the visual representation of your website content. Where possible, try not to rely on a single sensory ability. In particular, don’t rely on color alone to convey information, and you need to make sure that text can be resized up to 200%.

User Control:

It’s important that all elements of your website can be manipulated by keyboard alone (for those who cannot use a mouse). Keyboard-only users should be able to navigate forward and backward on your law firm’s website using buttons. For any content that might automatically scroll or move, users should have the ability to pause or move it.

Understandability:

Users must be able to navigate through a website in a logical sequential order that preserves meaning. Also, the purpose of each link needs to be clear based on its anchor text (so try to avoid using links that say “click here”). Take extra care to be sure headings and labels are clear and descriptive. 

Predictability:

Navigation and layout should be consistent throughout the website. Also, it’s important that nothing changes unless an action is taken – for example, users must hit enter before a screen changes. Along with this, errors should be easy to identify and correct. 

Make sure your law firm’s website meets the above criteria and you will be on the right path toward ADA compliance. It’s your firm’s responsibility to make sure you don’t make the necessary updates to ensure your site is optimized for ADA compliance. Unfortunately, complaint letters and even lawsuits are not uncommon. In fact, there have been numerous cases and 2018 was a record year for the number of lawsuits filed in this area. Settlements in these cases can range from $5,000 to $50,000.  For more information on ADA accessibility, visit the official ADA website for a detailed guide.

Takeaway

Even without the threat of potential lawsuits, you’ll want to ensure your law firm website is ADA compliant because search engines favor websites that are. ADA compliance for law firm websites is a win-win: helpful for all users of your website, and good for your firm’s online efforts! Contact us today if you would like us to perform an ADA compliance audit of your website to determine what issues need to be corrected.

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