Summary: What is an ADA website consultant, when you’ll need one, and tips for selecting the most effective partner.

Are you ready to make your r digital properties comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Have you been considering hiring an ADA website consultant?

Maybe you’ve heard about the fines and penalties incurred by businesses that fail to comply with — or even become informed about — legal mandates for web accessibility

Or maybe you’ve realized there are more than 61 million American adults with disabilities, all of whom deserve equal access to online information in our digital-first world.

Or maybe you’ve learned that, globally, people with disabilities, and their friends and family, control more than eight trillion dollars in disposable income, and you’d like to attract some of that spending to your organization!

Kudos to you if you’re making a new commitment to the ADA guidelines and compliance. But unless you happen to be qualified in accessibility standards and remediation, it’s challenging to make your website accessible without expert support. Thus your first step is to find the right ADA website consultant.

What is the ADA and Why Must You Comply With It?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is U.S. civil rights legislation signed into law in 1990. The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone with a disability, which applies to any public or private organization serving the public. The ADA requires these organizations ensure that their facilities, systems, communications and technologies are accessible to all people, regardless of ability.

In 2008, the ADA Amendments Act made it easier for people with disabilities to prove a business was not complying with the ADA. And as digital technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, companies are obliged to ensure that it, too, does not exclude people with disabilities. Title III within the ADA specifically prohibits discrimination in any place of public accommodation, which courts have interpreted to apply to websites and other digital properties.

This means websites are required to comply with the ADA — even as that website is redesigned and updated to include mobile responsiveness, real-time interaction, web based forms, modal windows, and video or audio features.

Similarly, a mobile app or an electronic document must not present barriers to users with disabilities. And organizations that have failed to comply with Title III of the ADA have increasingly been hit with financial penalties. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of ADA lawsuits and legal demand letters targeting organizations for inaccessible websites and other digital properties. 

What is an ADA Consultant?

Generally, an ADA consultant is a partner that is able to evaluate your services, premises, or properties to determine whether they comply with the accessibility requirements of the ADA and other global mandates. They may also assist you in remediating accessibility errors (in other words, the fixing) as well as ongoing maintenance.

Unlike other professionals, like pharmacists or dentists, there are no degrees or registries that entitle a person to call themselves an ADA consultant contractor. And while some organizations do offer training — some of it quite good — there’s no nationally recognized ADA consultant certification course or licensing.

That may make it more difficult to identify qualified ADA compliance experts with the necessary knowledge and skill to help you, particularly if you’re searching for an ADA website consultant with a background in digital compliance specifically.

Tips for Choosing an ADA Compliance Consultant

So what services can you expect from an ADA compliance consultant?

If your own focus right now is on ensuring that your digital properties are accessible,  the partner you engage should be specialized in this area.

They should have an extensive understanding and familiarity with multiple web accessibility standards and guidelines, how to meet them, and an understanding of legal regulations, including trends in case law. 

A partner’s ADA website consultant  services should include a thorough audit and evaluation, including hands-on human testing with several assistive technologies, plus proper guidance for remediation.

Importantly, aADA website consultants should also offer an ongoing monitoring service to alert you to any new errors, so that your digital content and products continue to remain legally compliant as your technology — or the technical requirements — evolve. Otherwise, it’s possible for a perfectly accessible website in 2022 to fall out of compliance in 2023.

An Innovative Solution

eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY has developed a comprehensive accessibility solution to help organizations follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and achieve and maintain compliance with standards and regulations. This includes integrating web compliance evaluation services with assistive technology to deliver a transformative experience for people with disabilities. Learn more about eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s innovative solution.