When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1989, companies have had to make sure that their buildings, and now websites, are ADA compliant.
With so many state and federal regulations regarding ADA compliance, along with changes and updates to legislation, companies can find it very difficult to keep up with.
There’s plenty of reason for companies to be concerned. In 2016, ADA related lawsuits jumped by 24% and there’s a new wave of lawsuits targeting corporate websites.
How can you protect you and your business? By working with an ADA consultant who knows the regulations and can protect your company from ADA related lawsuits.
Keep reading to find out how you can hire an ADA consultant that’s a great fit with your organization’s needs.
Why Is an ADA Consultant Important?
You’re probably aware of the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act that refers to hiring and providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.
If you have a retail establishment or any type of public-facing business, you know that you have to make sure that people with disabilities have the same access to public spaces like everyone. This also applies to websites.
You know that to be in business or to get your organization found, you need a website. You can’t depend on your web developer to know the latest laws and regulations. Even if they do a great job building your website and they know programming, it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure your site is accessible to everyone.
Government organizations aren’t off the hook, as they’re required to offer equal access to buildings, and yes, websites.
Not only are there legal ramifications, but by not having your website up to date and accessible, you’re shutting out a customer base. It’s also the right thing to do.
What to Consider When Hiring an ADA Consultant
Now that you understand why it’s important to hire an ADA consultant, how do you go about hiring one? You can start by learning what you should look for in an ADA consultant.
There are many different ways that one can become an ADA consultant. You want to make sure that the consultant you hire has the qualifications and expertise to help your organization.
Belonging to a professional organization like the International Association of Accessibility Professionals ensures that the consultant is up to date on changes in laws and regulations.
Hiring an ADA consultant who has a robust list of credentials and professional associations speaks to their ability and knowledge to make sure your site is fully compliant.
2. Extensive Understanding of WCAG
One of the reasons why websites can be a legal gray area is because there aren’t federal laws that specifically outline how your website can get up to date and become ADA accessible.
What is widely used by web professionals and ADA consultants alike is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide standards for web accessibility.
They need to know these guidelines inside and out. Accessibility goes way beyond adding alt-text to images. Color, text size, documents, and media all must be accessible as well.
One of the most overlooked aspects of ADA accessibility is documents. If your organization has brochures or price sheets available for download, you have to have accessible PDFs, too.
3. Case Studies and Testimonials
The team that you hire to make your website ADA accessible has to have a track record of success. You want to make sure that they have a solid reputation.
You can assure yourself that you have a reputable consultant by asking for testimonials and case studies. They’ll be able to show you how they solved issues with websites similar to yours and made them ADA accessible following the WCAG standards.
4. They Have a Process That Works
When you hire an ADA consultant, you want to make sure that they have a process that you can understand. This sets up the expectations for you as a client. It also can help you create benchmarks in the process to update your site.
For example, starting with a comprehensive audit will uncover your needs and liabilities. You’ll then work together to remedy the situation, whether that’s updating your PDF documents or changing the colors on your site. They can also work with your staff to make sure that future updates to your organization’s site are accessible.
5. Do They Understand Your Organization’s Unique Needs?
Your organization is unique and so are your site’s visitors. You may be a tourism site that relies on your site for bookings or an ecommerce site that depends on online purchases.
Does your consultant understand the unique needs of your business while getting your site ADA compliant at the same time?
That’s what you really want in an ADA consultant. You want to work with someone who has a wealth of experience in your industry, whether you’re a government organization or a hotel.
Is Your Website Accessible?
As more and more people turn t the internet for information, it’s more important than ever for your business to keep up by making your site accessible to everyone.
You can build up goodwill among your customers and show that you care about all customers. Not only that, you’ll protect your business from the rash of lawsuits targeting companies that don’t have compliant websites.
Hiring an ADA consultant who knows the ins and outs of guidelines and regulations will help you build your customer base and protect your business for the long term.
Would you like to know if your site is ADA accessible? Contact us to get a complete audit of your website and find out.