As a law firm owner, a fast and functional website is all you need to reach your clients more efficiently. Many even implement SEO techniques by hiring SEO experts to stay on top of their game. What many law firm sites don’t pay heed to is ADA compliance, which could be game-changing.
While websites fall under ADA restrictions, there aren’t specific laws for law firm sites. There are many reasons for that. However, that doesn’t mean you should make your site ADA compliant. And this also doesn’t mean that if your site isn’t ADA compliant, you won’t get into any trouble.
There’s a lot to explore about ADA compliance websites. There are specific criteria for making a site ADA compliant. WCAG plays an important role in the process. Also, the confusion between Section 508 and the ADA is very common. In this article, we will shed light on all of the topics, so let’s go.
What Is ADA Compliance?
“ADA” stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is a civil rights law that ensures indiscrimination for individuals with disabilities. The goal of this law is to ensure equal rights and opportunities for disabled individuals in all areas of public life.
Such areas are not limited to jobs, schools, transportation, telecommunications, commercial facilities, etc. only. The ADA law came into force in 1990, when websites and the internet weren’t a thing. So there’s a gray area as to whether this law applies to websites or not.
There are five titles in this law covering all instances of civil life. Title II of the ADA law states nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in state and local government services. Title III of the law states nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodations and commercial facilities.
The ADA law applies to both the public and private sectors. The ADA compliance eligibility of your law firm office and your law firm website falls under two different categories. While your office must be ADA compliant, there hasn’t been any clear injunction regarding law firm sites.
Laws Regarding ADA Compliance Of Law Firm Websites
As I’ve already mentioned above, there isn’t any specific law regarding ADA compliance of law firm websites. So, if you do not make your website ADA compliant, you won’t be breaking any laws. ADA compliance only applies if a business has fifteen or more employees, or if a business operates more than twenty weeks a year.
While law firms operate for way more than twenty weeks, the fifteen employee clause doesn’t fit with law firms. Lawyers working in a law firm aren’t considered employees. Also, support staff like cleaners, office assistants, etc. are part-time workers, so that also doesn’t fulfill the criteria of fifteen employees either.
So, it’s safe to assume that law firm websites don’t have to abide by ADA compliance rules. However, there have been incidents of lawsuits regarding ADA compliance websites. The most notable one in recent times is the Robles vs Domino’s pizza.
In most lawsuits, the defendant has to compensate the plaintiff by paying money. It is a big reason why a sudden lawsuit filing has become a popular practice these days. In recent times, there has been an increase in ADA website accessibility lawsuits.
As a law firm owner, you might have to pay a handsome amount as compensation or fine. So, although there is no specific law regarding this matter, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, making an ADA-compliant website doesn’t take much.
ADA vs Section 508
Many confuse the ADA with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. While they are very close to each other, section 508 doesn’t concern general people. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal law that states that all federal agencies have to maintain their information and communication technology so that people with disabilities can access them with ease.
It applies to federal agencies and departments and their websites. Your law firm site is a privately owned business, not a federal agency, so you shouldn’t worry about section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Here is a detailed discussion of the ADA, section 508, and WCAG.
WCAG For Law Firm Websites
WCAG stands for web content accessibility guidelines. It is a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It has four principles. Following these principles is the first step towards making your website ADA compliant. Let’s take a look at them:
Perceivable: The content of your website has to be perceivable by users. While it’s not a problem for general users, people with hearing or visual disabilities can’t perceive the content.
You’ll have to make sure that visitors to your site can easily see or hear the content regardless of their disabilities. When using assistive devices or technologies, the contents must not lose their meaning.
Operable: Operable means the components of your website must be accessible by users using any type of input device. Many people can’t use a mouse, especially the elderly with Parkinson’s disease. So, enabling keyboard access is essential. You’ll also have to make sure that users get to interact with the website’s content.
Understandable: The contents of your site have to be easily understandable. Users can readily understand the meaning, and assistive technology can translate or read the content without any trouble.
Robust: Robust means your content must be rich. The interpretation should be reliable and compatible with all the latest devices, browsers, or assistive software. The law firm website is not a blog site, so this principle shouldn’t be much of an issue for you, hopefully.
You can find more details about WCAG principles and guidelines here.
Why Is ADA Compliance Necessary?
Besides avoiding potential lawsuits, making your website ADA compliant can bring tons of benefits to your business. Here is why ADA compliance is so crucial for law firm websites:
- Increase Clients
If your law firm website isn’t ADA compliant, that means people with disabilities can’t navigate your site to its fullest. They won’t be able to access all the services you offer. Those clients will look for another firm that is more inclusive to disabled people.
Thus, you will lose so many potential clients. So naturally, making an ADA-compliant website will retain those clients for your law firm which is great for business.
- Improves SEO
Websites are all about SEO. Your website’s SEO has to be top-notch to reach your clients faster and before any of your competitors. Making your website ADA compliant also improves search engine optimization.
Better usability is a metric that Google takes seriously. Once you implement the necessary measures for ADA compliance, it achieves more functionality and automatically ups the SEO game.
- Save your Reputation
When people have a question, the first place they go is to the website. The website makes an initial impression of your company. If your law firm’s website isn’t accessible to disabled people, they’ll assume your firm isn’t inclusive to everyone.
It is enough to tarnish your reputation in the special-needs community. Making your site ADA compliant can save you from disrepute.
How To Make A Website ADA Compliant?
There are specific criteria to make your website ADA compliant. It is a massive topic but we will cover the basics here. Let’s go:
- Keyboard navigation should be a very basic feature for any site but many often forget about this. Elderly people have a hard time browsing websites using a mouse or touchpad on By enabling keyboard navigation on your law firm website, you are getting one step closer to ADA compliance.
- Your website has to include alt tags. It is also known as “alt attribute” or “alt description.” This feature adds text descriptions to pictures or videos that can be read by screen readers. It is a very important feature for visually impaired visitors.
- A text transcript is kind of the opposite of alt tags. It is a transcription of audio or video files for individuals with hearing impairment. Hearing problems are very common so you must strongly consider this feature.
- Color contrast is for people who have a hard time distinguishing between colors. If the text and the background color are close to each other, it can be unreadable to colorblind people. So, make sure all the colors used on your site contrast with each other so that they can be easily identified.
The laws regarding ADA compliance of law firm websites are vague. The problem is that there’s no guarantee that you won’t be subjected to legal trouble regarding this matter. It’s very unpredictable.
The good news is that making your website ADA compliant doesn’t take much. It is highly beneficial for your business and reputation, and can even save you from losing your hard-earned money. So, you shouldn’t miss out on this. If you need any help optimizing your website with ADA compliance guidelines, contact us today