ADA compliance is an important topic for law firms, as it impacts how they can legally present their websites to the public.
While there are many requirements to meet ADA compliance, making your website accessible to all can be a great way to improve your online presence and reach more potential clients.
Most people think of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as legislation that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in the physical world.
However, ADA compliance is also important for law firms that have websites. This blog post will discuss how ADA compliance affects website design and some tips to make your website more accessible. Let’s get started!
What is ADA Compliance?
ADA compliance focuses on making sure that websites are accessible to all users, including people with disabilities.
According to the ADA Business Technical Assistance Manual, “the term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual–(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment.”
For law firms, this can include individuals who have difficulty using computer programs due to vision problems, cognitive challenges, and motor skill issues.
When creating your site, it’s not just about meeting specific requirements- it’s also about building a better online experience for all of your website visitors.
What does it take to be ADA compliant?
Law firms must make sure their websites are accessible to everyone, regardless of disability, with specific standards and regulations.
In general, your website should have the following:
A way to enlarge content using a browser or other software- not just on mobile devices
For example, using an “expand” icon in place of a long sentence that says “click here to see full text.” Fonts that can be resized without losing quality A simple layout with minimal scrolling Text that is easy to read and understand Keyboard shortcuts.
Wherever possible – use standard file formats instead of proprietary ones Links that open new windows only when the user requests them Search functions that return the most relevant results Tools to make browsing easier for those with disabilities.
How does ADA compliance impact the websites of law firms?
Here are some steps to ADA compliance impact the websites of law firms:
Understand the ADA:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed in 1990. It aimed to prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment, education, transportation, and access to public services and accommodations. One area that the ADA applies to is websites.
Make Your Website Accessible:
All businesses must make their websites accessible to those with disabilities, including law firms. There are several ways to do this, and it’s essential to make sure that your website is compliant. Some ways to make your website more accessible include:
-Using clear and concise language
-Make sure all images and videos have accompanying text
-Using headings and subheadings to break up content
-Eliminating clutter from the page to improve readability
-Testing for color blindness
-Providing text alternatives to pictures
-Using keyboard shortcuts, where possible/appropriate
Be aware of ADA compliance rules:
As a business owner, there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to ADA compliance. Here are just a few things that may come into play when it comes to your website:
-Be sure that all forms can be completed online, and if this is not possible, print versions should also be available upon request.
-Keyword density should meet industry standards (2%-3% keyword density) and include keywords in H1s, H2s, alt text, page titles, and meta descriptions.
-All interactive elements should be labeled (for example, buttons should have ‘submit’ or ‘continue’ after them).
-If an image is used on your website with text in it, the text must be readable, and there cannot be a color difference between the text and background. For example, if you use a colored logo for your law firm and the logo’s background doesn’t change when clicked upon, this violates ADA rules because it would make reading the words impossible for someone with color blindness.
-Content must stay relevant; you can’t add content to pages to get around not having information about disabilities because if people who need it don’t find what they’re looking for on your website, you risk violating the ADA.
Show Some Love:
When it comes to your website and ensuring that it is truly accessible for everyone, paying attention to detail can make all the difference. You want people with disabilities (and without) to enjoy visiting your site. To show some love, here are a few things you can do on your website:
-Make sure forms are easy to find- if they’re not prominently displayed on every page, consider adding them, so visitors know they are available.
-If there’s text in an image or video, be sure it’s accompanied by descriptive text so those who cannot see the image know what’s happening.
-Allow keyboard shortcuts where possible/appropriate.
-Add an FAQ about your website and how it’s accessible.
-If you use a particular font on your website, be sure there’s a way for users to change their default browser font (significant if the fonts are tiny and difficult to read). Consider using larger fonts or headings throughout the site if this can’t be done.
Show Your Support:
Having accessible content is not enough- you need to show that you genuinely care about making your website accessible to everyone by offering support.
Some ways include sharing affirmations with your team members, adding accessibility information in your social media bios, adding links to articles that highlight the importance of ADA compliance on websites.
Referring clients who need help with their website and being a member of the industry associations focused on accessibility.
And there you have it! Spending the time to make sure your website is ADA compliant can protect you from lawsuits- but it goes well beyond that.
The more accessible your site, the better chance you will be successful in gaining clients who need law firm services, including those with disabilities- and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
Do these apply to all websites?
The short answer is no. However, if you want your law firm’s website to be accessible and ADA compliant, it’s important that you consider these guidelines as you build or redesign your site.
If you need some help getting started, contact us. We’re happy to guide you through this process!
Law firms should always keep ADA compliance in mind when designing their websites- not only because they want their sites to be more accessible and because it protects them from potential lawsuits.
While there are many requirements for being ADA compliant, making sure that your site works well for everyone can strengthen your online presence and make your law firm more competitive.
In this blog, we’ve discussed how ADA compliance impacts the websites of law firms. We hope you found our tips helpful as your website evolves to be more compliant with federal laws.
If you want help implementing these principles, contact us today! Our team is happy to assist in creating a stellar web design or marketing strategy that meets current accessibility standards and protects your business from potential lawsuits down the road.