The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is federal civil rights law that was established in 1990. It was done in an effort to eliminate discrimination based on certain disabilities in everyday life. It is the goal of the ADA to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their disabilities, will be free from discrimination. In layman’s terms – all individuals will be treated equally, regardless of their characteristics. ADA identifies a variety of disabilities, but not all are listed on their website. The list can be fully extended online, but a few examples are as follows:
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Intellectual disabilities
There are five sub-sections under the ADA: Employment, State/Local/Public Services, Businesses, Telecommunications, and Other. In each of these sections, there is a description of who these titles apply to, as well as a general requirement and how to adhere to them.
For a business to be considered ADA compliant, it must adhere to the same rules governed by the ADA, whether it is an in-person, hybrid, or e-commerce operation. Despite this, the ADA has failed to clarify its requirements for websites. Over the years, this topic has been the subject of controversy and complications. There has not been a clear statement from the ADA regarding the rules and guidelines associated with websites; therefore, many e-commerce businesses have found it difficult to comply with the ADA.
Despite the lack of direct responsibility under the ADA, the determination of whether to comply with ADA standards is typically a gray area that courts must handle (if they so elect).
In order to comply with Title III of the ADA, all businesses that are open to the public are required to provide equal access to all individuals who are listed as disabled in the ADA. If you take into account that the average consumer performs at least two transactions per day, you would assume that this would extend to e-commerce, but unfortunately it does not. Several U.S. courts have established both outcomes – that websites are subject to Title III, but also that they are not, which further complicates the situation.
Reasons Organizations Should Be ADA Compliant
Businesses are engaged in the provision of goods and services. By using e-commerce, that can be made available no matter where a consumer is located. There are numerous opportunities for consumers to engage with the world of e-commerce, which is why it should not be restricted on the basis of a physical disability. Every individual with a disability should be given the same opportunity to participate in the law of supply and demand.
Although courts have the authority to decide the best course of action for organizations, it is much more beneficial for all businesses, especially those that specialize in e-commerce, to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Before moving forward, organizations should consider the following factors.
1. Accessibility Brings In More Customers
According to the U.S. Census, approximately one in five people have a disability of some degree. Some individuals with disabilities have a difficult time shopping in stores comfortably. While brick-and-mortar stores must comply with the ADA in order to maintain compliance with the law, the stigma of being judged by others remains. The concept of inclusion is becoming more widespread in today’s society, but not everyone has fully embraced it.
Consumers of all types are able to view and shop from the comfort of their homes with the help of accessibility. In addition to attracting new customers, an ADA-compliant website will maintain the loyalty of current customers.
2. It’s The law!
Simply put, ADA compliance is the law of the land. Due to the fact that the ADA monitors all businesses offering goods and/or services, it is illegal to ignore business requirements. Whether your organization hosts a physical location or an online one, you must adhere to the ADA standards in order to avoid being found in violation of the ADA standards and penalized severely.
3. Two Words: Free Advertisement
The disability community is highly interconnected and communicates with one another on a regular basis. The majority of individuals who suffer from bodily challenges tend to associate with other individuals with similar experiences. Consequently, they share an impenetrable bond that allows them to talk freely with each other and share experiences.
The AXS Map can be used by disabled individuals to learn more about a specific location, including what other mobility-challenged people have to say about it and how it has been rated. Today’s society is characterized by a desire to discover more. This will result in people with disabilities sharing information about products that are of interest to them through word-of-mouth advertising for free. Free advertisements like these can make or break your business as they can either lure new customers (or clients) to your business or send them in the opposite direction.
4. Financial Assistance Is Available To Help
Complying with the ADA may require a considerable amount of funding, which may not be readily available to your organization. Fortunately, organizations are able to access a variety of funds in order to meet and exceed ADA accessibility standards. The provision of financial assistance in the form of grants and tax credits will assist your organization in moving towards a positive direction in regards to accessibility in the future.
5. Inclusion Enriches The Lives Of All
In the pre-ADA era, those with disabilities faced unimaginable obstacles just to carry out their daily activities. As a result, not only were people deprived of what they needed, but they also felt unwanted and excluded by their communities. Those days are no longer prevalent as the ADA helped people embark on a new journey that had been long awaited – inclusion.
People with disabilities tend to strive even harder to feel a sense of inclusion than the average person. The lives of people with disabilities are enhanced in new ways when businesses incorporate innovative methods of reaching all audiences, especially those who are disabled. Through their efforts, individuals are able to feel more appreciated, happier, and a sense of belonging.
The ADA has established its own requirements that businesses may follow to the extent permitted by law. The requirements for e-commerce are less clear. The ADA ensures that your business is accessible to people from all walks of life, regardless of whether your business is a physical location, a virtual location, or a hybrid model. Therefore, ADA compliance has the potential to determine whether an organization achieves long-term success or suffers widespread failure.