How Does the Americans with Disabilities Act Apply to Your Website?
You may know about the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it applies to your hotel’s physical property. But do you know what it means for your business online?
In this article, we look at the question, “How does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to your website?” The reality is that website accessibility matters a lot to your website visitors and the law.
Does the ADA Apply to You?
The answer is yes. As a private business that provides a service to the public, you need to be concerned about the ADA not only inside your hotel but on your website.
First, the government wants your website to be accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. Second, your hotel business will benefit by providing a user-friendly experience to everyone. (tweet this)
This means making the text adjustable, using alternative (alt) text for images, paying attention to your colors, and much more.
What happens if your website isn’t ADA compliant? Well, quite simply, you open yourself up to a lawsuit as well as a lot of bad publicity.
The bottom line is that because your business operates on the internet and is open to the public, it must be accessible to all.
What is Web Content Accessibility?
Generally, it falls on the court system to decide if a website complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and this usually happens when someone finds a site unusable.
Because the ADA was created before the internet became as integral to life as it is today, the law didn’t predict the needs of websites.
Yet, web content accessibility is generally understood to be covered by the ADA, and you’ll find many guidelines to help you achieve accessibility for people with disabilities and physical and mental impairments.
The ADA applies to the accessibility of a place of public accommodation. Because of the value of the web to society today, your website is a place of public accommodation. Why? Because you communicate with people and do business with them right on your hotel website.
While complying with accessibility is a must for your hotel website, you may wonder where to find out how to be ADA compliant.
You can follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This is an international standard and provides you with the guidelines you need for ADA compliance.
You’ll find there are three levels of accessibility discussed in the WCAG.
- Level A is quite urgent and applies to websites that are completely unusable for people with disabilities.
- Level AA is where you find most websites fit. It is a standard level of compliance, and most websites here have some functionality issues that they need to attend to.
- A Level AAA website provides the highest standard of accessibility. All website users have the same experience whether they have an impairment or not.
In addition, do note that the WCAG isn’t a law. It is simply a guide. By following their recommended actions, you can make sure your hotel website’s accessibility is where it needs to be.
You want to ensure your website sits at least at a Level AA accessibility. Doing this means you will most likely avoid any civil rights lawsuits.
Levels of Accessibility
When it comes to your hotel website accessibility, there are several areas of focus.
The WCAG guidelines have four areas of focus that apply to your hotel website.
- Your website must be perceivable. This means that website visitors should be able to find and process the information on your website. For example, you want to provide audio descriptions for all your video content. This allows website visitors who can’t see to digest your content easily.
- When a person lands on your hotel website, it should be understandable. This extends to your navigation tools as well. Your website user should be able to understand and comprehend all the information contained on your site. For example, users should be able to use their screen readers to book a room.
- Your hotel website should also be operable. This means that a website visitor should be able to navigate your website easily. For those with impairments, they must be able to use all your site functions and navigation using a keyboard as well as voice commands.
- Your hotel website should be robust. This means that your website should be adaptable to the various needs of your website users. Users should be able to use screen readers, and your site should evolve with new upgrades.
Finally, it’s worth noting that by improving your website for people with disabilities, you are also improving it for all website visitors. Intuitive navigation means everyone will have an easy time finding what they need. In addition, adding alt text to images helps everyone. Imagine when images don’t load, all users can see what the image is with the alt text.
Providing access to your hotel website for all is not only a way to avoid a lawsuit and negative publicity, but it’s a way to provide a friendly website with a great user experience for all.
Final Thoughts on the Americans with Disabilities Act
According to AbilityNet, “Ninety percent of websites are inaccessible to people with disabilities who rely on assistive technology.”
If your hotel website isn’t accessible, there are a lot of potential people missing out on your lodging property.
So, just how do you check to see if your website is accessible and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act? You can use this accessibility checker. This tool will show you where you have room for improvement. Finally, the best course of action is to visit with your website designer/developer to talk through what you need to do to bring your website into compliance. At Hotel Propeller, we are ready to help you do just that.
We are your hotel’s digital advertising specialists and can help you position your hotel for success and attract repeat guests to your inn. As experts in website design, we can create a new website that is accessible to all. And we can also help with search engine marketing, online booking, online listings, and social media marketing. We are here to help. Contact us today to start a conversation about your digital advertising needs.
Image: Rodion Kutsaiev and bruce mars on Unsplash
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