Do you have a Shopify store and sell to an US audience? You might need to look at some legal changes on how to promote your brand over there. Similar to the GPDR in Europe, the Americans are tightening the rules and this time have a special emphasis on how your website is accessible for people living with a disability. Our very own Elysia, content and social media manager at Four Drunk Parrots, has had a good look at what that means for our clients. 

ADA law and E-commerce

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. With everything swiftly moving towards the digital world it is no surprise that ADA law is now embedded into e-commerce. Brands are coming to the quick realisation that having an easily accessible e-commerce store is no longer just a considerate act. It is now a legal requirement that many brands are not meeting. 

Let’s examine the link ADA has TO E-COMMERCE

ADA legislation was created in 1990 to cease the discrimination of disabled persons’ and to ensure they have access to public areas. Over the past two years regulations have been modernised with the recognition of the online sphere as well. Websites must now adhere to these regulations as they are recognised as digital ‘public accommodations’. 

What does this mean for your E-commerce? 

If your online store currently sells in the US certain adjustments must be made to meet ADA regulations. When following these measures it will ensure you have an easily accessible site that is fully inclusive for everyone’s use, regardless of any potential visual or auditory disabilities.

There are a few things to consider when building an inclusive e-commerce site. The first being the tech, this includes keyboard check-out requirements. Designing the colour contrasts is another area to be considered. Then there is the content in itself. This involves looking at accessibility statements along with image and video captions.

Why Is This Important?

Morally this is something that should concern not only online businesses but everyone. Having an easily accessible public space for your customers should be a priority. Not only does it reflect your brand in a positive way. It communicates to your customers that inclusivity is an imperative component of engaging with them. It also increases the customer pool to your online shop. Which then converts to more traffic and more sales. Furthermore (and here’s the big one) It’s the law. 

There are numerous legal implications for brands that are non-compliant with the ADA regulations. A significant number of brands in the US are facing lawsuits, notably even after they have tried self-certification through inadequate automation tools.

How Do You Start?

When creating a new online store, begin with the dev work. Unfortunately there isn’t industry accreditation for ADA compliance within e-commerce. However, there are convenient guides available. During the build/adjustment stage of your site the ‘Web Content’s Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1)’ will become your best friend. There are 12 of them, arranged across 4 key principles:

  • Operable

  • Understandable

  • Robust

  • Perceivable

The 12 guidelines have a set of requirements the websites are then tested against. These ensure your site meets the ADA regulations. We recommend not testing these with automated testing tools instead through people’s experiences as well as manually auditing to ensure you are meeting the compliance. You can look at a third party specialist to do this for your business on a regular basis. Just because you’ve done it once, does not mean it doesn’t need to be maintained.                                           

Constantly updating your sites usability will create a more inclusive environment. We can help you get where you need to go, get in touch here or call us on 02 66 87 91 76


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