Legal Marketing

ADA Compliance And Your Website

Before jumping into this article, all clients’ websites were updated with an ADA overlay, which in our opinion shows a reasonable effort to accommodate ADA requirements.  You are already well ahead of the vast majority of websites in the US when it comes to ADA compliance, but that is different than “fully compliant”.  It is a reasonable effort.

This week, we have heard from 2 different clients about their concerns over ADA compliance.   The concerns came from 2 different perspectives.

ADA Trollsada compliance and your website

The first perspective our clients come from, is that it appears that the attorneys that troll for sites that are not ADA compliant (ADA Trolls) have become more active again.  The client is afraid of becoming a defendant in a class action ADA law suit.  The ADA Trolls tend to have a group of people that are disabled that is large enough to form a class action law suit, and nearly always no member of the class has actually used the sites.  they are a straw-man to support the suit, so that the Troll can earn their cut from the class action suit.  I personally know a small business, that the fines from a class action law suite forced them into bankruptcy.   This is not a topic to be triffled with.

The second perspective, is an attorney that has clients that require their vendors to be ADA compliant, as a condition of keeping their business.  This is not unusual for attorneys with government clients, or large financial institutions, or publicly traded companies as clients.

I thought an article on the topic would be helpful.

First the ADA, Americans With Disabilities Act, is (IMHO) good legislation, that says 18% of the US population has some form of disability that prevents them from using a website.  OF COURSE, we should exercise a reasonable effort to accommodate these people, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because why would any businessperson in any industry, simply ignore 20% of their potential market?

We are NOT anti-ADA.  We are anti-ADA-Troll, and dislike the opportunistic way that they troll for sites so that they can get fees from class action law suits, regardless of the fact that a simple oversight of ADA requirement might put their defendant out of business.  We consider that to be predatory & mercenary, but a reality we must face.

The ADA, has the force of law.  It requires that your site make a reasonable effort to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.   Late last year, we added what is called an ADA overlay to every client’s site.  This shows, in our opinion, making a reasonable effort, and should dissuade the Trolls from threatening you with an ADA suit.  We do not claim that this makes you 100% compliant, but the letter of the law as we see it (and we are not attorneys) is that you make a reasonable effort by adding the ADA Overlay.  Frankly, the trolls are looking for an easy mark.  Given that the vast majority of websites make no effort to be ADA compliant, the troll is probably going to take a look at your site, see the ADA overlay, and move on to an easier mark, knowing that they will have an uphill battle, and there is much easier low hanging fruit to pursue.  There’s no guarantee that they will move on, and you might still face a suit once you are in their cross hairs, but the intent of the law, is followed, and your being pursued aggressively by an ADA Troll is greatly diminished.

AFTER ADA, there is an international body that sets the standards for all website design, included in these standards, are standards to accessibility.   These are guidelines, and while the DOJ has been known to reference these standards, the WC3 guidelines do not have the force of law.  WC3 is an international body and have been around since the original websites.

These are the guidelines to pay attention to if your motivation is to be sure that a client’s needs for their vendor’s to be ADA compliant websites from their attorneys or other vendor/partners.   A client choosing to use you, or not use you, is a choice they have every right to, and therefore that fact that WC3 standards are guidelines, and not law, are moot.  You have to do it, or risk losing the client, regardless of law.

Here is a non-lawyer’s overview of the WCAG guidelines, and whether or not the ADA Overlay that we have added to your site is adequate to address these concerns.

There is an upgrade to the overlay, that will accommodate more of these points, and if you are interested, it does involve upgrading the Overlay Subscription at a cost of $60/month, and investing about a thousand dollars in implementation.


Here are the specific (synopsizing) requirements of WCAG 2.1 at Level AA from the W3C guidelines that are particularly relevant to small businesses:

Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language.

Your Current State is compliant with the overlay, as long as you have what is called Alt text on all images – which is typical of any site that we (StudioHOF of Local Legal Marketing) have created.
Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media (video or audio). This includes captions for videos (Level A) and audio descriptions for video content (Level AA).
Your Current State –
VIDEO and AUDIO – not compliant.  to become compliant, we must change any videos on your site to stream from Youtube to your site, and we must edit any video to include closed captions.  YouTube takes care of adjusting the speed.  If you have any audio only content – then that content must also have a transcript (which the overlay we have already installed, will make compliant)

SLIDERS – We have used to use sliders in the past.  Sliders are time based media.   Sliders have been found to be ineffective at delivering messages, and are not adjustable in speed by site visitors.  If your site uses sliders, we should consider instead stopping the use of the slider all together if you must be WCAg 2.1 Level AA compliant, and present the content in other ways.

Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example, simpler layout) without losing information or structure. This involves using proper markup techniques and ensuring the logical order of content when linearized.

Your Current State, Your site is adaptable, in as much as it is responsive, adapting to different sized screens.  It is not adaptive in that visitors cannot reorder content to their liking. 

Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background. This includes color contrast ratios, resizable text, and not using color as the only way to convey information.

     Your Current State, This can all be accomplished with the basic ADA Overlay already installed, therefore Compliant.

Keyboard Accessible: Ensure that all functionality of the content is operable through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystrokes.

Your current state – not compliant, the upgrade to the ADA overlay can do this for your site. 

Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content. This may involve giving users the ability to pause, stop, or extend time limits.

Your current state – there are no timeouts on any site that we have created, and no functions that must be accomplished within X amount of time, therefore NA

Seizures and Physical Reactions: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures or physical reactions. For instance, avoid flashing content that can cause seizures.

Your current state, we have never deployed content that can result in seizures or physical reactions, therefore NA.

Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are. This involves creating a logical structure, providing clear headings, labeling links meaningfully, and offering a variety of ways to navigate content.

At present your site is 100% menu driven, there are no alternative ways of navigating other then the menu system.  Keyboard based navigation is, however,  would be available should you choose the subscription update.

Readable and Predictable: Make text content readable and understandable, and make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways. This includes language specification and consistent navigation.

Your Current state – while this is clearly subjective, and not quantifiable, all sites we have delivered use a logical progression from topic to topic and intuitive navigation.  IMHO, Compliant.

Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes. This involves error identification, labels or instructions for input, and error prevention for legal and financial data.

Your Current State – If your site has complex forms, like client intake, those forms were built with a tool called Gravity, and Gravity has a free plugin for ADA compliance.  There is a significant expense in setup to make complex entry forms compliant, and if this is a need, then reach out to us one on one.  Simple forms like a contact me form, are not complex enough to be dramatically impacted.

Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools, such as assistive technologies. This involves ensuring that the code used to create content is robust enough to be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.ada compliance and your website

Your Current State – All sites that we create are based on a constantly updated WordPress platform, the same platform that drives over 50% of all websites on the web.  As updates are made of any nature, including accessibility, these updates are applied and tested on the site.  All updates that can be automated, and therefore they are updated immediately.  Any updates that fail, are dealt with at a minimum of weekly.   We use Userway as assistive technology specific to accessibility, and that is also constantly updated and maintained. Your state, compliant.
I realize that none of this is glitzy sexy stuff.  However, the threat of lawsuit is real, and having clients that require your site to be ADA compatible is also very real.
StudioHOF and LocalLegal marketing have working relationships with Accessibility professionals that are able to entirely rewrite your site to be ADA compliant.  In the process, the site will lose much of it graphic appeal, but it is quite doable.  If you have ADA concerns, the first step, is to invest in an upgraded Overlay – that also comes with a $10K guarantee – if you are successfully sued over non compliance, they will pay the first $10K of the fine.
That carries a cost of $60/mo.   If you need to tell a client that you are fully ADA WCAG Compliant, then we need to discuss having an ADA professional totally redesign your site.  That investment varies on the complexity of the site, but you should count on multiples of 5 figures to reach that level of compliance, and we are happy to manage that for you.
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