Most websites and organizations struggle with ADA compliance due to the many rules and regulations there are to cover. However, it’s a critical part of website development that helps to increase its level of accessibility for everyone. Since law firms want to be accessible and available to everyone, it’s crucial to avoid common ADA compliance issues with law firm websites.
The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is a federal law that has been effective since 1990 and helps to ensure equal treatment towards people with any form of disability. However, as ADA doesn’t have a clear guideline for websites most developers rely on WCAG or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. So websites can commonly face ADA compliance issues.
In the United States, one out of every four people lives with some form of disability. So you must be concerned about whether your law firm website has any ADA compliance issues or not. In the rest of the article, we have shared the most common ADA compliance issues your law firm website may be facing and much more. Without further ado, let’s get right to it!
Why Should Law Firms Have ADA Compliant Websites?
ADA compliance can be a headache for most websites and businesses out there. With too many rules and aspects of ADA compliance to navigate through, many law firms may completely disregard it when developing their website. Many law firms also believe that making their website ADA compliant can be too expensive and a time-consuming process.
But the truth is that having an ADA-compliant website is crucial for law firms because of a multitude of reasons. They are –
- Helps to Reach a Larger Audience
One of the most important marketing tools law firms have at their disposal is their official website. But when a large portion of your audience cannot access it, it can be a huge problem.
In the United States, one in every four people live their lives with a disability and they can access only ten percent of the internet. A research conducted by the Association of People Supporting Employment First or ASPE, clients that have disabilities, their families, and friends make up a $3 trillion market area that you might be overlooking.
- Social Responsibility
Firms, companies, and organizations must not only be socially responsible but also openly display their values in today’s market. Being inclusive to everybody has become extremely important.
Potential clients do their research to find firms that share their values of inclusivity. When you develop an ADA-compliant website, it is a great approach to show those who are just learning more about the law firm that you care about all of your potential clients.
- Avoid Fines and Penalties
The ADA regulations were originally formulated back in 1990 when internet technology wasn’t as widely used as now. So the law did not include any websites. However, nowadays, almost everyone uses or has a website of their own. So it is crucial to make sure web content is available and accessible to all – regardless of the past rulings.
In recent years, several law firms have gotten sued before the guidelines were officially released. A “safe harbor” clause allows current content generated before July 18, 2018, to stay unchanged. After that date, any new pages or changes to existing pages should be compliant.
Any modified pages on your website must comply with at least grade A standards, with AAA being the highest. If you want to avoid the legal troubles that can come from not being ADA-compliant, it’s best to make changes to your website now.
Most Common ADA Compliance Issues Law Firm Websites Should Avoid
In a nutshell, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil law that ensures equal rights for disabled people. When your law firm’s website design is accessible to everyone with disabilities, it can reach nearly 40 million people in the United States. A good web design for your law company not only complies with the law but also promotes your brand.
ADA compliant websites provide a better user experience for both disabled and non-disabled clients. So let’s take a look at the most common ADA compliance issues your website may face so you can avoid them –
- Issues with Color Contrasting
For those with visual impairments, low-contrast background and text can be an extremely common problem. When there’s insufficient color contrast, it can pose a great challenge for older people and those with eye disease, and someone suffering from temporary eye strain. These people find it extremely difficult to decipher texts from the background and the graphics.
So it is highly recommended that you always use ADA-compliant colors during the starting phase on the website of your law firm. The least contrast should be of 4:5:1 with a solid background required by the WCAG 2.0 level requirements.
- Small Font Sizes
People with visual disabilities are quite common, especially among elder people. For them, font size can be a concern as well.
Most web browsers offer keyboard shortcuts, such as “ctrl” – “+,” that lets a user magnify the text on the screen. Even so, the website’s design should take into account the need for larger font sizes.
- Mobility-Related Issues
There are many individuals out there who are unable to operate a mouse or a computer keyboard. Many face challenges seeing or focusing on the mouse cursor as well. Not taking these issues into account can pose a great challenge for those with mobility issues.
An ADA-compliant web design should be able to access and move between buttons, links, forms, and other controls by using alternative keystrokes. If possible, having an option to let users operate the website through the keyboard can take away some of these mobility-related issues.
- Missing Alt Text for Image Files
Images can be essential for creating a visually appealing law firm website design. However, when it comes to ADA compliance, problems can occur if there’s no screen reading technology. For people with visual disabilities, Alt text provides context or a description of an image.
If there’s no alt text, the image is regarded as broken. To minimize these challenges for them, every graphic image on a law firm website should have its alt text, which should sufficiently describe the image.
- Issues with Video and Audio Files
One of the most important aspects of developing a website and making it more accessible to people is providing media assets. For visually challenged people, images can pose a great challenge so audio and video files provide an alternate mode of access. However, for people with hearing issues, this works to their disadvantage.
By adding video and audio files with no consideration to those with hearing problems, you are disregarding a significant portion of your consumer. But this problem is easy to solve simply by adding subtitles to video files. For audio files, a written description can be useful. Subtitles can be a crucial addition to your website. You may also provide subs in multiple languages to reach a wider audience.
What Is the Optimal Level of ADA Compliance?
For most websites, the optimal level of ADA compliance is the AA level. There are three levels of ADA and WCAG compliance – A, AA, and AAA.Each level boost means a higher-tier website accessibility standard. These levels also offer websites more flexibility.
Only small business websites work fine with a lesser compliance level than government information-related websites. For the most part, an AA rating works best for regular websites. AAA-level compliance is required only for the highly necessary ones.
However, it’s recommended to not stay in the A zone. There are far too many loopholes at this level. While it may appear to be fine, many disabled persons cannot use or navigate through the website properly. This can result in lengthy legal battles.
The accessibility standards for the AA level are a lot stricter. It gives great importance to color contrast, so it covers most of the vision disability issues. Comparatively, level A is too lax and becomes a trap for your law firm website. Vision disability is far too common. So the optimal level of ADA compliance is to at least stick to the AA level for a valid web accessibility solution.
The AAA level is far stricter than the other two. It’s so rigorous that it’s difficult to apply it all across your website As a result, most websites only use this standard partially. In most cases, incomplete implementation involves particularly important content.
Being ADA-compliant has several benefits for your law firm’s website, whereas failing to follow the requirements can result in a damaged reputation, lost leads, and legal bills. So you might be looking into the most common ADA compliance issues with law firm websites so you can avoid them.
In this article, we address the most common ADA compliance issues faced by law firm websites and the optimal level of standard you should stay within. We hope the article has helped you identify any ADA compliance issues with your website. And if you do, don’t be shy to contact us as we can fully optimize your website with ADA guidelines.