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ADA Requirements and Compliance for Businesses

The Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA, was signed in by George Bush in 1990. The act is aimed at guaranteeing accessibility for people living with various forms of disabilities by providing public and private businesses with specific compliance guidelines.

Over 42 million people in the United States are currently living with some form of disability. The ADA prohibits discrimination against them and requires businesses to provide inclusive access to public accommodations.

When the ADA refers to businesses, it includes restaurants, motels, retail stores, schools, doctor’s offices and hospitals, gyms, educational institutions, commercial facilities, and more. No public or private organizations are excluded.

Overall, the ADA ensures that people with disabilities can fully participate in all areas of life, and businesses that do not comply are subject to fines, lawsuits, and other penalties.

Businesses can be fined up to $75,000 for any given ADA violation, with additional violations attracting fines of up to $150,000.

Over and above the financial and legal implications of non-compliance, businesses have a social responsibility to ensure accessibility for all people. 

This guide aims to unpack the steps businesses need to take to comply with the latest ADA guidelines. You can also access an easy-to-use PDF checklist at the end of this guide.

What Are the Main ADA Requirements for Businesses?

In order to comply with the ADA, there are several key areas that both physical and online businesses should focus on.

Infographic Main ADA Requirements for Businesses

Wheelchair Accessibility

If your business has a physical location, it needs to be wheelchair accessible.

Roughly 39 million Americans have a motor impairment such as a spinal cord injury or muscular dystrophy and have serious difficulty walking and climbing stairs, necessitating the need for a wheelchair or other mobility aids. 

Wheelchair accessibility is essential for complying with ADA requirements because it ensures that people with mobility impairments can access and navigate buildings, facilities, transportation, and public spaces on an equal basis with others.

By providing wheelchair-accessible features such as ramps, elevators, wider doorways, and accessible restrooms, businesses promote inclusivity and make it possible for those with disabilities to fully participate in society.

The ADA has several wheelchair accessibility requirements for government buildings, businesses, transportation services, and places of public accommodation.

Complying with wheelchair accessibility requirements not only means giving people easy access to your building or transport facility but also the ability to perform a 360-degree turn. A wheelchair typically requires a circular space with a diameter of at least 60 inches (152.4 cm). This space allows a wheelchair user to maneuver comfortably without any obstructions.

In terms of wheelchair ramps, these are the specifications that need to be met:

  • Maximum slope. ADA-compliant ramps should have a maximum slope ratio of 1:12, which means that for every inch of vertical rise, there should be at least 12 inches (5.08 cm) of horizontal run.
  • Minimum clearance. Ramps must also have a minimum width of 36 inches (91.44 cm) between handrails, allowing ample space for wheelchair users to maneuver safely. For ramps with a rise greater than 6 inches (15.24 cm) or with a horizontal projection greater than 72 inches (182.88 cm), handrails are required on both sides. 
  • Handrails. Handrails should be continuous along the entire length of each ramp, extend at least 12 inches (5.08 cm) beyond the top and bottom of the ramp, and be mounted at a height between 34 and 38 inches (86.36 and 96.52 cm) above the ramp’s surface.
  • Landings. Wheelchair ramps must have level landings at the top and bottom, as well as at any points where the ramp changes direction. Landings should have dimensions of at least 60 inches (152.4 cm) in length (in the direction of travel) and the same width as the ramp to provide a stable platform.

Website Accessibility

Title III of the ADA covers places of public accommodation, which include a wide range of businesses such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, retail stores, and other establishments that offer goods or services to the public. 

With the advancement of technology, courts have extended the definition of public accommodations to include websites and digital platforms that provide goods and services to the public.

Courts have recognized that inaccessible websites can exclude people with disabilities from accessing goods and services offered by online businesses. This is particularly relevant for people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities who may encounter barriers when using websites that are not designed with accessibility in mind.

While the ADA itself does not explicitly mention websites, courts have interpreted Title III to apply to websites and digital platforms under the theory that they are places of public accommodation. This interpretation has led to a number of legal challenges and lawsuits against businesses and organizations whose websites are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

To comply with ADA Title III, websites should be designed and developed with accessibility in mind. The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) plays an important role in ADA compliance for websites and outlines many of the requirements that website owners need to meet in order to achieve either Level A, Level AA, or Level AAA compliance. 

Some of these requirements include:

  • Ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies such as screen readers.
  • Providing alternatives for non-text content (such as alt text for images and captions for videos).
  • Implementing keyboard navigation functionality.
  • Ensuring that content is perceivable, operable, and understandable for individuals with various disabilities.

Business owners will be pleased to know that ADA tax credits apply to modifications made to online platforms in an effort to comply with the latest standards. 

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Handicap Spaces for Cars

The ADA also outlines requirements for accessible parking spaces to cater to people with motor impairments. This includes people with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and amputations. 

There are several ADA requirements for parking that businesses need to meet:

  1. Number of Spaces: The number of accessible parking spaces you require depends on the total number of parking spaces that are provided by your business. As of the latest ADA standards, the ratio is as follows:
    • 1 accessible space for every 25 total spaces (up to 50 spaces)
    • 2% of total parking spaces for larger lots exceeding 500 spaces
  2. Location: Your accessible parking spaces must be located on the shortest accessible route to the entrance of your building. Parking bays should be close to your entrance, with minimal slope or gradient changes, and avoid any obstacles that may limit access.
  3. Size and Markings: Accessible parking spaces must be a minimum of 8 feet (2.4 m) wide, with an adjacent access aisle of at least 5 feet (1.5 m) wide. The space and access aisle must be marked with the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) and painted with bright, contrasting colors to enhance its visibility.
  4. Van-Accessible Spaces: In addition to standard accessible parking spaces, businesses must provide van-accessible spaces that are at least 11 feet (3.35 m) wide with an access aisle at least 5 feet (1.5 m) wide. These spaces are designed to accommodate wheelchair-accessible vans with side-mounted lifts.
  5. Proximity to Entrances: Your van-accessible parking spaces should be located closest to the accessible entrance of your building, ensuring convenient access for people with disabilities using wheelchair lifts or ramps.
  6. Enforcement: Businesses are responsible for ensuring that accessible parking spaces are reserved for people with disabilities and not used by unauthorized vehicles. Enforcement measures such as fines or towing of vehicles that are parked illegally in accessible spaces should be implemented.

These ADA requirements aim to ensure that your customers and employees with disabilities have equal access to your parking facilities and feel more welcome at your place of business. 

It’s important for businesses to adhere to these requirements as closely as possible to not only ensure full compliance, but also limit the loss of additional parking spaces and the accumulation of unnecessary modification costs. 

Consider whether increasing the dimensions of accessible parking spaces will truly benefit disabled users before you go ahead with the modifications. 


Discrimination prevention is at the heart of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and businesses that discriminate against customers or employees with disabilities can face legal action.

Title I of the ADA prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against qualified people with disabilities in all areas of employment, including hiring, promotion, job assignments, termination, and compensation. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would have severe negative effects on their business.

Title II of the ADA is specifically linked to state and local governments, which need to ensure that their programs, services, and activities are accessible to people with disabilities and provide reasonable modifications or accommodations when necessary.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, retail stores, healthcare facilities, and other businesses that are open to the public. Businesses must ensure that their facilities, goods, services, and communications are accessible to the disabled community.

Tips for Preventing Discrimination

Without even realizing it, businesses can discriminate against people with disabilities through policies, practices, or attitudes that create barriers to equal access and opportunities. Here are some things to pay attention to, to avoid this:

  • Physical Barriers: Failure to provide accessible facilities, such as ramps, elevators, accessible restrooms, and designated parking spaces, can discriminate against people with mobility impairments.
  • Communication Barriers: A lack of alternative communication formats, such as braille signage, large print materials, or accessible website content, can exclude people with visual or hearing impairments from accessing your information or services.
  • Hiring Practices: Discrimination in the hiring process, such as imposing unnecessary medical inquiries or job requirements that put disabled people at a disadvantage can prevent qualified candidates from being considered for employment opportunities.
  • Workplace Accommodations: Failure to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, such as flexible work schedules, assistive technology, or modifications to job duties, can hinder their ability to perform essential job functions and advance in their careers.
  • Customer Service Policies: Poor attitudes or lack of training among staff regarding how to interact with customers with disabilities can create an environment that is unwelcoming or inaccessible to the disabled community.
  • Inaccessible Technology: Websites, software, or mobile applications that are not compatible with assistive technologies can prevent people with disabilities from engaging with a business online.

Internal Policy Adjustments

To avoid unintentional discrimination and promote inclusivity, businesses should proactively assess their policies, practices, and physical environments to identify and remove barriers to access and improve participation for anyone with disabilities. 

Here are some suggestions for adjustments that businesses can make to their internal policies:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Policies. Ensure that all employment policies and practices comply with Title I of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. This includes policies related to hiring, promotion, job assignments, training, and termination.
  • Reasonable Accommodation Procedures. Establish clear procedures for requesting and providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Train your managers and HR personnel on how to effectively handle accommodation requests and engage in the interactive process with employees to identify appropriate accommodations.
  • Accessibility Policies for Customers and Visitors. Develop policies that ensure accessibility for customers and visitors with disabilities in all areas of the business, including facilities, goods, services, and communications. This may include providing accessible parking, entrances, restrooms, signage, and alternative formats for information.
  • Training and Education Programs. Implement training programs to educate your employees about ADA requirements and best practices for serving customers and interacting with colleagues with disabilities. This training should cover topics such as disability awareness, effective communication, and providing accommodations.
  • Digital Accessibility Policies. Establish policies to ensure that your digital content and technology platforms, including websites, mobile applications, and software, are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This may involve adopting accessibility standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and conducting regular accessibility audits.
  • Complaint Procedures. Develop procedures for handling complaints related to ADA compliance and discrimination. Ensure that your employees know how to report accessibility barriers or discriminatory practices and that complaints are promptly investigated and addressed.
  • Periodic Reviews and Updates. Regularly review and update internal policies and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance with ADA requirements. This includes staying informed about changes in accessibility standards, legal developments, and best practices in disability inclusion.

Service Animals

The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that has been trained to perform tasks or work for a disabled person. The tasks must be directly related to the person’s disability.

There are no restrictions in terms of the type of disability that a service animal can be used for. Service animals can be trained to assist people with physical disabilities, sensory impairments (such as blindness or deafness), psychiatric disabilities, seizure disorders, and other disabilities.

Types of Service Animals and ADA Compliance

You may have noticed that service dogs are not the only type of animals used by the disabled community. Some jurisdictions or local laws have provisions that permit other types of service animals besides dogs. These may include animals such as trained miniature horses, monkeys, pigs, or birds. 

However, the ADA specifically excludes animals other than dogs from its definition of service animals. This means businesses are not required to accommodate other types of animals as service animals under federal law. Emotional support animals (ESAs) are also not considered service animals under the ADA.

People with disabilities who use service animals are entitled to bring their companions into most public places, including restaurants, hotels, stores, theaters, hospitals, and transportation services. Businesses and organizations covered by the ADA must allow service animals to accompany their handlers into these areas, even if pets are normally prohibited on the premises.

Here are a few other requirements to be aware of:

  • Businesses and organizations are not allowed to ask people with service animals to provide documentation, certification, or proof of their disability or the animal’s training. 
  • Service animals must be under the control of their handlers at all times. They should be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless it will interfere with the animal’s work or a person’s disability doesn’t allow them to use it
  • Businesses must make reasonable modifications to their policies or practices to accommodate people with disabilities who use service animals. This includes allowing the service animal to accompany the owner wherever they go within the premises, as long as it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the business.

Staff Training

Another important aspect of ADA compliance is staff training. Employees should fully understand the importance of the ADA and how your business policies are structured around it.

ADA training raises awareness about the rights of people with disabilities and the legal obligations of businesses to provide equal access and opportunities. It helps employees understand the importance of accessibility and inclusivity in creating a barrier-free environment for everyone.

By understanding ADA requirements and implementing the appropriate policies, practices, and accommodations, businesses can reduce the likelihood of discrimination complaints, lawsuits, fines, and penalties.

The ADA Training and Certification Program is highly recommended for ADA coordinators within your business. The ACTCP certification verifies that participants have completed their training in the required areas and have an in-depth knowledge of ADA issues.

Overall, ADA training is an ongoing process that allows your business to stay informed about updates, changes, and best practices related to ADA compliance. It encourages continuous improvement and commitment to creating accessible and inclusive environments for the disabled community.

ADA Training for Different Employees

It’s important to note that ADA training may vary depending on an employee’s position and responsibilities within your organization. Tailoring your ADA training to different employee positions ensures that people receive relevant information and guidance related to their specific roles and interactions with customers, coworkers, and stakeholders. 

For example, what should a cashier do differently when engaging with a customer with physical or cognitive disabilities? What facilities are available within your business that will allow them to carry out their duties as effectively when servicing a disabled customer? 

The same applies to an HR manager. Would a new HR manager be aware of the accommodations that need to be made for disabled employees? Are there policies in place in terms of your hiring processes that cater to the needs of disabled candidates? 

Integrating ADA Training with Other Laws

It’s essential for your business to integrate ADA training with other laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to ensure accessibility is taken into account from every angle. 

Here are some tips that can help and can easily be applied to other laws that are relevant within your business: 

  • Create Combined Training Programs: Develop training programs that cover both ADA and FMLA requirements. This comprehensive approach ensures that your employees and managers understand their obligations under both laws, including employee rights, eligibility criteria, and procedural requirements.
  • Implement Interactive Training Methods: Use interactive training methods such as case studies, scenarios, and role-playing exercises to demonstrate how ADA and FMLA regulations may show up in real-life situations. This approach allows your employees to apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills to common workplace scenarios involving disability accommodations and medical leave.
  • Align Your Policies: Ensure that your company policies and procedures related to disability accommodations, medical leave, and employee rights are aligned with both ADA and FMLA requirements. This includes updating policies to reflect changes in regulations or legal interpretations.
  • Provide Regular Updates and Refresher Training: Provide regular updates and refresher training on ADA and FMLA requirements to keep your employees and managers informed about changes in regulations, case laws, and best practices. 
  • Documentation and Recordkeeping: Emphasize the importance of accurate documentation and recordkeeping for ADA accommodations and FMLA leave requests. Ensure that your employees and managers understand their responsibilities for documenting interactions, decisions, and accommodations in compliance with both laws.

Accessible Entrances

Once a disabled person reaches your business entrance, there are additional requirements that need to be met.

Accessible entrances provide people with disabilities, including those who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers, with the ability to enter and exit buildings more independently. This promotes equality and ensures that people with disabilities are not excluded from accessing goods, services, and facilities that are available to the general public.

Here are the key ADA requirements for doors:

  • Accessible Route: Accessible entrances must be connected to an accessible route that complies with ADA standards. This route should be free of obstacles, hazards, and abrupt changes in level. They should also be firm, stable, and slip resistant.
  • Entrance Width: Your entrance doorway must be wide enough to accommodate people who use wheelchairs or walkers. ADA standards require a minimum width of 32 inches (81.28 cm) when the door is open at 90 degrees. For double-leaf doors, at least one leaf must have a width of 32 inches (81.28 cm) when open.
  • Thresholds: Thresholds at your entrances should be no higher than 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) for exterior sliding doors and 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) for other types of doors. Thresholds higher than these limits can create barriers for people with mobility impairments.
  • Automatic Doors: Automatic doors need to have adequate clearance, maneuvering space, and controls that are accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Handles and Hardware: Door handles, locks, and other hardware should be operable with a closed fist or a limited range of motion. For this reason, lever handles or push/pull bars are often preferred over knob handles for accessibility.
  • Clear Floor Space: Accessible entrances should provide a clear floor space inside the doorway to accommodate people with mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or scooters. This space should be at least 32 inches (81.28 cm) by 48 inches (121.92 cm) and located adjacent to the door swing.
  • Ramps or Lifts: If your entrance is not at ground level or is otherwise inaccessible, you must provide ramps, lifts, or other means of vertical access to ensure that people with disabilities can enter your building safely. 

It should also be noted that accessible entrances must remain unlocked during business hours to ensure that people with disabilities always have equal access to buildings, facilities, and services.

Access to Tables

Businesses that run restaurants, cafes, and bars must ensure that their tables are accessible to people with disabilities to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design. 

When tables are attached to the wall or floor, 5% of the tables or at least one (if less than 20 are provided) must be accessible.

You should also arrange fixed tables and seating in a layout that maximizes space and allows for comfortable navigation and interaction. Avoid overcrowding or clustering tables too closely together, as this can restrict movement and accessibility.

It also helps to provide companion seating options at accessible tables to accommodate individuals who may require assistance or support from a companion or caregiver.

Here are some of the other key requirements for making tables accessible:

  • Clear Floor Space: Accessible tables must be surrounded by a clear floor space that allows people using wheelchairs or mobility devices to approach and maneuver freely. The ADA requires a minimum clear floor space of 32 inches (81.28 cm) by 48 inches (121.92 cm) located adjacent to the table.
  • Table Height: The height of accessible tables should be within the range of 28 inches (71.12 cm) minimum to 34 inches (86.36 cm) maximum. 
  • Knee Clearance: The ADA requires a minimum knee clearance height of 27 inches (68.58 cm) from the floor to the bottom of the table, with a depth of at least 19 inches (48.26 cm).
  • Tabletop Size and Shape: The tabletops of your accessible tables should be large enough to accommodate people with disabilities and provide space for dining or other activities. The ADA does not have specific dimensions for tabletop size or shape, but comfortable use and access is key.
  • Accessibility Features: Your accessible tables can also include additional features to enhance accessibility, such as adjustable height mechanisms, removable or swing-away table legs, or rounded edges to prevent injury or obstruction. 
  • Spacing and Arrangement: Accessible tables should be spaced throughout your dining area to ensure equal access and integration with other seating options. Table arrangements should also take privacy, convenience, and comfort into consideration.

Service Counter Accessibility Requirements

There are also requirements for service counters that need to be met to comply with ADA accessibility standards:

  • Height: ADA standards require that service counters be at a height that is accessible to people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility impairments. The maximum height for service counters is typically 36 inches (91.44 cm) above the finished floor or ground level. 
  • Knee Clearance: Service counters should also provide adequate knee clearance beneath the counter. ADA guidelines specify a minimum knee clearance height of 27 inches (68.58 cm) from the floor to the bottom of the counter, with a depth of at least 19 inches (48.26 cm). 
  • Clear Floor Space: Service counters should be surrounded by a clear floor space to accommodate people using wheelchairs or mobility devices. The clear floor space should be at least 30 inches (76.2 cm) wide and 48 inches (121.92 cm) deep, extending beneath the counter and providing ample room for maneuvering.
  • Reach Ranges: Service counters should be designed to ensure that all service items and transactional equipment are within reach of people with disabilities.
  • Accessibility Features: Service counters should ideally also incorporate additional accessibility features to enhance usability for individuals with disabilities. This may include adjustable-height counters, accessible transactional equipment (such as card readers and payment terminals), and signage or communication aids for people with visual or hearing impairments.

By ensuring that your tables meet these ADA requirements, you can provide equal access and opportunities for customers and employees with disabilities to dine, socialize, and participate.

Facility Infrastructure

The ADA Standards for Accessible Design outline specific requirements for buildings and facilities to be physically accessible to people with disabilities. 

Federal ADA regulations require all new construction of public accommodations to comply with the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards. These accommodations can be commercial facilities, public buildings, or government facilities. 

New construction refers to buildings, facilities, or structures that are being constructed or built for the first time. This includes entirely new buildings but also encompasses additions to existing structures and alterations or renovations that involve significant changes or expansions to a building.

Ensuring facility infrastructure accessibility compliance benefits people with a range of disabilities but is most beneficial to those with motor impairments. 

Many of these requirements have already been outlined in previous sections, but here is a full summary of the standards that businesses with physical locations are expected to meet when pursuing new construction:

  • Accessible Routes: Buildings and facilities must provide accessible routes that connect accessible entrances, public spaces, and amenities, allowing people with disabilities to navigate your premises safely and independently. 
  • Accessible Entrances: Accessible entrances must be provided and connected to accessible routes. Accessible entrances should have adequate clearances, door widths, thresholds, and maneuvering space for people who rely on mobility aids.
  • Parking: Accessible parking spaces must be provided and located in close proximity to your accessible entrances, with appropriate signage, markings, and access aisles. 
  • Ramps and Elevators: Where elevation changes exist, such as steps or stairs, buildings must provide ramps, elevators, or other means of vertical access to ensure that people with disabilities can access all areas of the building. 
  • Doors and Doorways: Doors and doorways must be designed to accommodate people who rely on mobility aids. 
  • Restrooms: Restrooms must have features such as accessible stalls, grab bars, lavatories, sinks, mirrors, dispensers, and signage. 
  • Seating and Tables: Public accommodations, such as restaurants, theaters, and waiting areas, must provide accessible seating and tables for the disabled. 
  • Signage: Buildings and facilities must provide accessible signage that includes tactile, visual, and audible elements and comply with ADA standards for size, contrast, readability, and placement.

Accessibility Tax Credits and Deductions

The government understands that there are often significant costs associated with making physical improvements to buildings and facilities to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities. 

Fortunately, tax credits and deductions can help offset some of these expenses, making it more feasible for businesses to invest in accessibility upgrades.

Disabled Access Credit

Disabled Access Credit is available to eligible small businesses that have incurred expenses to comply with the ADA. The credit covers 50% of eligible expenses between $250 and $10,250 in a tax year, with a maximum credit of $5,000 per year. 

These figures apply to businesses with total revenues of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees. Eligible expenses may include the cost of providing accessible entrances, parking spaces, ramps, signage, and other accessibility features.

If compliance costs exceed $10,250, the additional costs will be for the business’s own account. However, when compared to the cost of accessibility penalties and lawsuits, the extra costs are worth achieving compliance status. 

Tax Deductions

Businesses may also qualify for a tax deduction of up to $15,000 per year for expenses related to removing architectural or transportation barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing their facilities. 

Public transportation providers can also benefit from tax deductions of up to $25,000 per year for expenses related to removing transportation barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing their services. Eligible expenses may include the cost of modifying vehicles, stations, platforms, and other facilities to improve accessibility.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit provides a tax credit to businesses that hire people from certain groups, including the disabled community. Businesses can claim a tax credit ranging from $1,200 to $9,600 per qualified employee, depending on the employee’s hours worked and wages earned during their first year of employment.

In addition to federal tax incentives, businesses may be eligible for state or local tax credits, deductions, grants, or incentives to support their ADA compliance efforts. These incentives vary by jurisdiction and may include property tax exemptions, sales tax exemptions, and financial assistance programs for accessibility improvements.

Customer Feedback

How your business communicates with people who have visual, hearing, and speech impairments also matters when it comes to ADA compliance.

Effective communication with customers with disabilities promotes accessibility, shows understanding, and helps businesses meet the diverse needs of their clientele.

By engaging in meaningful communication with customers with disabilities, businesses demonstrate their commitment to customer service, inclusivity, and accessibility. Positive interactions have the power to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The ADA requires businesses to provide effective communication and auxiliary aids and services to customers with disabilities, including those with vision, hearing, and speech impairments. Failure to effectively communicate with customers with disabilities can result in legal action.

Here are a few ways that businesses can make it easier for customers to provide feedback on products and services:

  • Provide Accessible Feedback Channels: Offer multiple channels for customers to provide feedback, such as accessible online forms, email, phone, text message, or in-person feedback stations. 
  • Train Staff on Accessibility Best Practices: Train staff to provide responsive and inclusive customer service to customers with disabilities, including active listening, clear communication, and sensitivity to their diverse needs. 
  • Offer Accessibility Surveys: Conduct accessibility surveys to gather input from customers with disabilities about their experiences with your products, services, and facilities. Use accessible survey formats and offer accommodations, such as assistance or alternative formats, to ensure participation from all customers.
  • Collaborate with Disability Organizations: Partner with disability organizations or advocacy groups to gather feedback from people with disabilities and incorporate their perspectives into your business practices and decision-making processes. 
  • Run Public Meetings and Focus Groups: Host public meetings, forums, or focus groups to engage with customers with disabilities and gather their feedback on accessibility issues, challenges, and opportunities. Provide accommodations, such as sign language interpreters or assistive listening devices, to ensure full participation from attendees with disabilities.

Infographic Digital Business Accessibility Requirements

Logo Accessibility

A number of users with visual impairments will be accessing your website and as mentioned, providing alternatives for non-text content is an important part of ADA compliance. However, does this also apply to elements such as logos?

According to the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), images, including logos, should have alternative text. This requirement caters to website visitors with vision impairments and those who use screen readers to access digital content. 

Alt text serves several purposes:

  • Accessibility: Alt text ensures that website visitors with vision impairments or those who use screen readers can access and understand images, including logos, on websites or digital platforms.
  • Contextual Information: Alt text provides contextual information about an image, such as its purpose, function, or significance. For logos, alt text may describe the brand, company name, or the visual elements of the logo.
  • SEO Benefits: Alt text can improve search engine optimization (SEO) by providing textual descriptions of images that can be indexed by search engines. Descriptive alt text for logos can help improve the visibility and discoverability of a brand or company in search engine results.

Alt text should be concise, clear, and relevant to the context of the web page or content where the logo appears. Additionally, alt text should be implemented using proper HTML markup to ensure compatibility with assistive technologies and compliance with web accessibility standards.

Image Accessibility

When looking at image accessibility, it’s important to first distinguish between print and web images.

The main difference between printed images and web images for ADA compliance lies in the way they are accessed and consumed by individuals with disabilities, particularly those who rely on assistive technologies for accessing digital content.

Here are some key distinctions:

Access Method

  • Print Images: Printed images are static and are typically viewed in physical form on paper. Individuals with visual impairments may use alternative formats such as braille or tactile graphics to access printed images.
  • Web Images: Web images are digital and are viewed on computers, smartphones, or tablets. Users with visual impairments may rely on screen readers, which convert on-screen content into synthesized speech or refreshable braille displays, to access web images.

Accessibility Features

  • Printed Images: Printed images do not inherently include accessibility features such as alternative text (alt text) or descriptions. However, tactile graphics can be designed with embossed elements to convey information through touch for individuals with visual impairments.
  • Web Images: Web images can include alternative text attributes (alt text) that provide textual descriptions of images. Screen readers can then read out the alt text to users with visual impairments, making it possible for them to understand the content of the images.

Content Structure

  • Printed Images: In printed materials, images do not contain interactive elements. Information conveyed through printed images is fixed and cannot be modified.
  • Web Images: Web images can be part of dynamic and interactive content on websites. They may be linked to other content, such as text descriptions, captions, or additional information, to provide context and enhance accessibility for users with disabilities.

Modification and Updates

  • Printed Images: Printed images are static and cannot be easily modified or updated once printed. Any changes or corrections to printed images would require reprinting of the materials.
  • Web Images: Web images can be modified or updated more easily, allowing for real-time changes to alt text, descriptions, or other accessibility features to improve accessibility for users with disabilities.

Alternative Text

According to the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines, most images on your website should have alternative text. Adding alt text to your images provides website visitors who rely on assistive technology with more context, ensuring you’re painting a complete picture of your content.

It’s important to remember that assistive technology such as screen readers read out alt text to users, which is why the text should be clear and descriptive. If no alt text is present, a screen reader may read out the file name of an image, creating a confusing experience for visitors.

Alt text is only required for important images though. If images are simply used for decorative purposes and aren’t related to the content on a page, you can make use of a blank alternative text tag in your HTML. A blank alt text is written as alt=”” with no space between the set of quotes.

What’s important is that an alt tag exists, whether it’s blank or not. This way, screen readers are either reading the alternative text or skipping over the image. 

Color Contrast

Color contrast also needs to be considered with image accessibility. Avoid using color combinations that may be difficult for users with low vision or colorblindness to discern. It’s best to steer clear of red-green color combinations as well as color combinations with similar hues or shades.

Overly bright or vibrant color combinations can also cause discomfort or visual fatigue for users, particularly those with sensory sensitivities or photosensitivity. 

When incorporating images or graphics into your site’s design, ensure that text or other essential content overlaid on top of images has the correct color contrast ratio for readability. Avoid using images or backgrounds that obscure or diminish the legibility of text or important visual elements.

Accessible Image Formats

In terms of image formats, the following formats are considered to be accessible:

  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics): SVG is an XML-based vector image format that is widely supported by web browsers. It allows for scalable, resolution-independent graphics and supports text elements within the image, making it accessible to screen readers.
  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): Images embedded using HTML can include alternative text (alt text) attributes, which provide textual descriptions of the images. Screen readers can then read out the alt text to users with visual impairments, providing them with context about the content of the images.
  • PDF (Portable Document Format): PDF files can be made accessible by adding alternative text descriptions to images and other non-text elements. Adobe Acrobat provides tools for adding alt text to images within PDF documents, ensuring accessibility for users with disabilities.
  • EPUB (Electronic Publication): EPUB is a format commonly used for ebooks and digital publications. EPUB files support alternative text descriptions for images, allowing users with disabilities to access content using assistive technology.
  • DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System): DAISY is a specialized format for digital audiobooks and other types of digital content. It supports text-to-speech synthesis and includes features for adding descriptions of images and other non-text elements.
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Final Thoughts

The ADA has a significant number of requirements that must be met when running a physical or online business. 

However, by failing to comply with the latest ADA standards, not only are you isolating a number of customers and employees, but you’re also leaving your business vulnerable to costly lawsuits and penalties. 

Businesses should take advantage of the tax credits and deductions that are available to offset some of the costs associated with ADA compliance if budget is a concern. In terms of effort though, complying with these standards is a worthwhile investment in the longevity of your business and will ensure you are doing your part to create a more inclusive society for all. 

Where Do I Download the ADA Requirements and Compliance for Businesses?

You can download your ADA Requirements and Compliance for Businesses Checklist here. 

We continuously update this checklist to ensure your site is complying with the latest requirements. The latest version was updated in 2024. 

An ADA requirement is any one of the standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act that businesses need to comply with.

The ADA requires businesses to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access and opportunities for people with disabilities. This can include things like wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, braille signage, and other modifications to make facilities and services accessible to the disabled community.

It’s quite challenging to make a website 100% compliant with ADA web accessibility standards. No website will ever be 100% accessible to users.

However, it’s possible to come close by making a reasonable effort to comply with most WCAG requirements. Making web accessibility an ongoing, long-term priority can also help businesses avoid costly penalties and accessibility-related lawsuits.

Any websites that provide products, services, and information to the public are required to be ADA compliant. This includes business, government, healthcare, education, employment, and eCommerce websites.

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