Starting a business, or even developing a website for an established business, can be extremely expensive.
Understandably, business owners and managers want to save as much money as possible during this process. In doing so, however, many fall short of the requirements set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act for online websites.
Although the rules surrounding ADA compliance and the digital world used to be vague, the introduction of Title iii means that there is no longer an excuse to ignore the accessibility of your website.
Surprisingly enough, though the cost of making your website accessible may initially seem exorbitant, it is often the cheaper option over a longer term.
In some cases, you can even hire a web developer who will automatically make your website ADA compliant, slashing even the initial costs.
If you don’t believe us, or are still wondering whether the hassle is worth it, here is why building or keeping a non-ADA compliant website is extremely cost ineffective and could end up sinking your company.
Fixing Mistakes Often Costs More Once A Website Has Been Developed
As mentioned in the introduction, web developers will often handle everything to do with ADA compliance while they are developing your website.
They know what needs to be done to comply with legislation, and how to code your website to include these changes at the time of development.
If you forgo this offer, or build your website yourself without attention to legislative requirements, you could be facing more difficulties down the line.
Not only will you waste time you could have saved by being ADA compliant in the first place, when you need to search for and correct discrepancies, you may have to pay someone to make these changes. This added cost can be avoided by simply following practices that make the website compliant in the first place.
Changing existing features is often harder than building new ones, so becoming ADA compliant after the initial development phase could easily cost your company tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your business and the complexity of your ADA noncompliance.
You Could Be Excluding Up To 20% Of Your Worldwide Customer Base
People with disabilities make up the largest minority, around 20% of the worldwide population as a whole.
To put this into perspective, a report looking into ADA compliance of healthcare websites said that there are 25 million disabled people in the US alone.
If your website is inaccessible to this minority, you are potentially losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit every year.
Depending on the niche you are targeting, this could potentially stunt your ability to grow the business.
Even if you aren’t focused on providing services or products for those with disabilities, with this group comprising such a large part of our society, you are almost certainly excluding at least some of your potential customer base if your website is not ADA compliant.
Local And Federal Agencies Will Be Unable To Make Contracts With Your Business
If you want to grow your business by working with local and federal agencies, having an ADA compliant website is an absolute must.
This is because these agencies are tied to the law, and are therefore unable to work with companies that don’t have websites accessible to people with disabilities.
This includes elements such as alt attributes, a keyboard navigation system, and accessible contact forms; all of which help disabled people access your site.
If you go for contracts with a federal or local agency oblivious to the fact that you aren’t compliant, you could face legal action, or a strict warning to make the necessary changes before a lawsuit is filed.
Your Negative Reputation Could Threaten Your Growth
You might think you’ll be lucky and avoid being caught for not being ADA compliant, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
In fact, reporting of noncompliant websites is becoming more frequent. There was a 33% rise in ADA lawsuits between 2017 and 2018.
When you are caught, keeping the information under wraps isn’t an easy task, and once others learn of your noncompliance, your reputation will suffer.
This could make it harder to acquire and retain new customers, leading to less profit and making it more difficult to grow your business over time.
It is also likely you will need to pay for help to overcome the PR crisis. This could limit your ability to invest in other business opportunities by diverting funds. If you had been compliant in the first place, such an expenditure could have been avoided.
Federal Charges Are Extremely Expensive
If a lawsuit is filed against you for being ADA noncompliant, as was the case for Beyoncé and many lesser known businesses in 2018, you could be facing some pretty extreme charges.
Digital Authority Partners reports that a first ADA website compliance offence alone could cost you as much as $75,000.
This could sink a small business, and leave mid-size businesses struggling to survive after payment had been taken.
These costs don’t take into account that lawsuits will also expect you to enact appropriate changes to make your website compliant, at an additional cost to you.
What’s more: the $75,000 charge will increase depending on the severity of your breach, and goes up for any additional successful lawsuits made against you.
This means that you could be spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on an issue that wouldn’t have cost you nearly as much if you had included ADA compliance when first developing your business website.
We understand that there are accompanying challenges when creating an ADA compliant website. However, we are sure you understand why we recommend this step after reading this article. If you don’t know where to start, check out this list of consulting companies with deep experience in ADA website compliance.
Despite the initial outlying costs that can seem expensive and better spent in other areas, not making the necessary ADA compliant adaptations could lead you to an even worse financial situation down the line.
Is it worth taking a chance on your business being ruined a year down the line, instead of getting it right when you’re first getting started? It is not.
This article comes from Codrin Arsene, CEO @ Digital Authority Partners, a Chicago design agency