Expertly reviewed by
#ADACompliance #webaccessibility #complianceexemptions
5 minutes

ADA Exemptions: Who Needs to Comply?

As the number of accessibility lawsuits against websites continues to rise, you may be worried that your site is at risk too. 

Facing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) non-compliance lawsuits is time-consuming, tedious, and expensive, not to mention the damaging effects it can have on your brand. To avoid getting sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, you must ensure that your site is strictly ADA compliant and accessible to everyone. 

However, some sites and businesses form part of the ADA exceptions list and don’t need to comply. 

If you want to get started with website accessibility and are curious about which sites and businesses are exempt, continue reading.

Understanding ADA Compliance

Before discussing which businesses are exempt from ADA compliance, it’s important to understand what this act is all about. 

ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, requires online information and electronic technology to be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. 

Understanding ADA Compliance

There are several measures you need to take to make your website ADA compliant. Based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the following are requirements for achieving ADA compliance.

ADA Compliance Requirements

  • All video and audio content on your site must have ALT text, transcripts, and/or captions.
  • Web content must be well-defined and placed under the correct headings with properly formatted paragraphs. 
  • All web pages must have informative titles.
  • The website must be easy to navigate, with each page having the same navigation menu.
  • Background sounds should be under 20 decibels.
  • Your website’s background and texts should pass the contrast test.
  • All pop-ups should be removed.
  • Your website’s readability score should be high.

The list shown above does not include all possible accommodations, but these requirements are a good starting point for achieving website accessibility.

The guidelines listed above are the most important and should be implemented first. You can also seek help from a third-party website accessibility solutions provider

A third-party website accessibility solutions provider makes ADA compliance and web accessibility so much easier, saving you the time and inconvenience of having to do it yourself. Additionally, it strengthens the validation to the organization’s efforts in making the platform accessible.

There are several reviews and comparisons available online to help you determine which solution is right for you. 

When an ADA-related lawsuit is filed, the most common outcome is for the website owner to take steps to make their site accessible and ADA compliant.

However, some cases have also resulted in business owners having to pay a large amount of money for committing an ADA violation and refusing appropriate accommodations to users with disabilities.

The fine increases when the same website owner fails to adhere to the necessary WCAG standards and requirements.

Other penalties would depend on your current state’s federal laws and policies on ADA compliance. 

Do All Businesses Need to Be ADA Compliant?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all websites must follow strict ADA compliance rules and be fully compliant.

There is a strict correlation between website accessibility and the law. Websites serving the public and those connected to a physical shop must be accessible to everyone, including people with invisible and visible disabilities. These laws apply to both the public and private sectors.

And because larger businesses have more resources, they are expected to be even more proactive in removing any accessibility barriers across their websites.

In essence, businesses of all sizes are required to have compliant websites.

Do All Businesses Need to Be ADA Compliant?

Who is Actually Exempted From ADA Compliance?

There are a few businesses that are actually exempt from having to attain ADA compliance. These are:

  • Companies operating for only twenty weeks in a year
  • Businesses with less than fifteen employees
  • Religious organizations
  • Private clubs

All business websites connected to any of the above categories are eligible for ADA exemptions and website accessibility requirements.

However, if your organization has been receiving funds from federal agencies of any kind, then you should automatically adhere to ADA compliance policies and regulations. 

However, even when you’re exempt, you can still take steps to make your site ADA compliant and do your part to build a more inclusive society.

The Grey Area for Exemption

While all businesses in private and public sectors are required to be ADA compliant, there are other guidelines that can further help you determine whether you’re likely to receive lawsuits when your site is not ADA compliant.

For instance, if your website is linked to your physical store, your website needs to be ADA compliant.

One of the more popular cases regarding ADA compliance is the Winn-Dixie trial. The lawsuit was filed by a legally blind with cerebral palsy, Juan Carlos Gil, claiming that he couldn’t access Winn-Dixie’s website. 

Because Winn-Dixie’s website contains a nexus to its physical shop and a grocery store is a place of public accommodation, Juan Carlos Gil ultimately won the case. 

The lawsuit could have been avoided if Winn-Dixie had made its website accessible to all without any barriers, especially to people with disabilities.

On the other hand, if your website is purely online and is a personal blog without an e-commerce function, then it’s less likely that you’ll receive negative comments about your site not being accessible. 

However, this shouldn’t stop you from attaining website accessibility if you can. Doing this lessens the risk of disabled web visitors filing a lawsuit against you because they felt discriminated against.

The Grey Area for Exemption

Wrapping Up

Making your website ADA compliant and accessible is the right way to welcome everyone to your website, especially people with disabilities.

Regardless of whether your business is included in the list of websites eligible for ADA compliance exemptions, you must properly evaluate out of conscience whether following the WCAG guidelines will benefit you or the people visiting your website. This will also have you covered in the event of any amendments in the existing acts, or the introduction of a new legislation.

Imagine the thousands of dollars, lost time, and hassle you have to deal with when you face lawsuits related to ADA compliance. These trials can negatively affect your business and brand image too. 

Ensuring your websites are ADA compliant and accessible, especially to legally disabled individuals, is the first step to eradicating social discrimination, promoting equality and inclusivity to everyone in the digital world. 

You can start your ADA compliance journey by evaluating your website. Conduct an audit of your website on Accessibility Checker

Did you find this article helpful? Read and learn more about ADA compliance by clicking one of the insightful articles below. 

Accessibility Checker

Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments