Being ADA Compliant: Meaning, Importance, and How to Comply

Americans With Disability Act book on wooden deskAlmost every business operating in the United States needs to be ADA-friendly if it wants to be compliant and avoid being sued. Unfortunately, many companies still don’t know what it means to be ADA compliant, which puts them at risk of suffering severe reputational and financial damage if the situation is not solved quickly and efficiently.

But what does ADA compliance mean? And what does ADA-accessible mean according to today’s legal requirements for businesses and government agencies?

To help you better navigate the intricacies and understand ADA accessibility, let’s look at the most critical aspects of compliance you should be aware of below.

What is ADA Accessible and What Does ADA Compliant Mean?

When figuring out what ADA-compliant means for your business, it’s essential to establish what it stands for and its history. The origins of the ADA compliant meaning can be traced to 1990 when it was signed into law by then-president George H.W. Bush. 

Initially, the ADA accessible meaning centered around ensuring that people with disabilities are not discriminated against, including employment protections, access to public accommodation, transportation, government services, and more.

Because the internet has become a central tool for accessing various services, it’s only natural that the ADA-compliant meaning encompassed businesses that operate websites. In 2010, the United States Department of Justice updated the Standards of Accessible Design to include rules that electronic information, such as websites, must follow. 

So, what does ADA-approved mean? These standards define how websites should be formatted and form the basis for understanding ADA approval for businesses and government offices today.

The Importance of Being ADA Compliant: Meaning and Purpose

There are many reasons why understanding the ADA-compliant meaning and following the regulations are essential. On the one hand, it’s the law, but it also has a range of secondary benefits that will help your company become more successful and provide a better service to your entire audience.

Let’s look at the purpose of ADA compliance and some of the most meaningful advantages.

Helps You Better Serve Your Customers

Freedom Motors’ website provides visual and audible accessibility options

Perhaps the primary purpose that answers the question, “what does it mean to be ADA compliant?” is being able to provide your customers with the best service possible. When you are building a loyal following of customers, you need to ensure that each one can access your services and learn more about what you offer. Doing this requires you to consider that not all people can access the information online as easily as others.

As many as 26% of all people in the United States have a disability, which means that a quarter of your target audience might not be able to use your website if it’s not designed with their needs in mind. Then there’s the significant part of the aging population that might not be able to browse your website as easily as someone young.

Following ADA-friendly practices ensures that you provide your customers with an accessible browsing experience, allowing them to access the information they need.

Be Socially Responsible

Managing your company’s reputation is a big part of success in today’s business environment. That includes being aware of our society’s social principles and doing your best to adhere to them. A large part of your audience is probably actively looking to support brands that are willing to put in the effort to make a positive difference.

The underlying principles behind the ADA-compliant meaning revolve around providing everyone equal opportunities and access to your services. The ADA standards ensure that people with disabilities can access your content, and showcasing that will be another reason why your fans may want to support you.

It’s Easy

Even though being compliant with ADA standards is mandatory for most companies, that doesn’t mean it has to be a big challenge that will require you to invest a lot of money and time to comply. The ADA requirements are beneficial for people with disabilities and have been developed to make adopting them relatively easy for businesses of all sizes.

The 2010 Standards consider the challenges a typical business might be facing, simplifying the process and clearly laying out how adherence to the standards can be achieved.

Who Needs to Be ADA Compliant?

One of the first questions most business owners ask is whether they must comply with ADA. Since the standards are designed to include any electronic information such as websites, that usually means that if you run a business, you must comply with it.

Wheelchair accessible sign on brick wall outside officeHowever, some exceptions may allow you not to follow the standards until some time in the future. For example, suppose your business is a private organization that doesn’t work for the public’s benefit and has under 15 employees. In that case, that could make you exempt from having to comply with ADA requirements.

But even private organizations with 15 or more employees have to follow the same procedures, which will usually include a big part of companies operating today. In addition, if a business works with the public directly, like a bakery, restaurant, hotel, or gym, they have to follow ADA compliance requirements no matter how many employees work there.

At the same time, public organizations like schools, public transport, law offices, postal services, and others must also remain compliant. Finally, all government offices and organizations must be accessible to the public, which means that ADA requirements are also mandatory.

However, even if you do fall within the requirements not to have to follow ADA, it’s a good idea to consider implementing them anyway. These requirements are there for a reason, and the benefits listed in the previous section clearly show that understanding ADA compliance and following the requirements ultimately helps your customers and the business.

The Consequences of Not Being ADA-Friendly

Following ADA requirements is vital for various reasons. Still, perhaps the most important to note is that it is a mandatory set of standards that most organizations in the country must follow. Those who fail to do so can be exposed to serious repercussions in certain situations.

Unfortunately, being unaware of the requirements or how they should be implemented does not protect you from the potential of facing hefty lawsuits against your organization. Many businesses end up not being compliant not because they’re unwilling but because they’re unaware or unclear of how the process works or what steps they should take.

But what happens when you fail to understand ADA compliance and follow the standards on your organization’s website?

Well, the primary risks are related to potential legal issues. If your website is not ADA compliant, that can make it vulnerable to lawsuits from people who could not access it. A lawsuit can mean not just a potentially hefty settlement but also legal fees and having to rebuild your website according to the requirements quickly.

Finally, it can result in losing business because of the reputational damage your company might suffer through the lawsuit. When your customers learn you aren’t taking the necessary steps to cater to the needs of those with disabilities, recovering your reputation will be a long and challenging process.

How to Make Your Website ADA-Friendly

Now that it’s clear why being ADA compliant is so essential, you are probably wondering what it will take to make it happen for your website. The good news is that figuring out the ADA-friendly meaning in your situation doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Freedom Motors’ website provides visual and audible accessibility options

The core principles behind the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the web content accessibility guidelines are simple to understand. 

The first principle revolves around making your website easy to perceive for everyone. This means that people should be able to access the information in text, video, sound, and images and have alternative options to access the same information.

Another core feature of an ADA-compliant website is being easy to operate. You must ensure your website is convenient to navigate and that people with various disabilities can access the tools your website employs. That includes providing thorough instructions about using multiple features available on your site.

Finally, you will need to ensure a consistent experience for every site visitor. Even if someone can’t read the text or watch a video, they should be able to get the same information and access the same content using other formats.

The best way to approach this is to continually diversify your content so that it can be accessed and viewed in different formats, providing clear instructions for utilizing each feature you have available.

Our website provides web accessibility through AudioEye with the goal of identifying and resolving access barriers to our site for digital inclusion for our visitors.

Freedom Motors: Accessibility to Fit Your Needs 

Hyundai Palisade with wheelchair ramp, showing interior

ADA standards ensure that people with disabilities can access online content. It is also a way to help you gain and keep customers, as those with disabilities represent a large market segment. This is a significant customer base you should be serving. 

At Freedom Motors, we are focused on providing that same level of access to transportation, ensuring that people with disabilities can remain mobile using wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

If you want to learn more about our selection of mobility equipment and cars, visit our website today!