Over the past month, several stores that are members of the American Booksellers Association have reported receiving letters from law firms representing clients who are visually impaired. These letters indicate that the store’s website is not ADA compliant, and in at least one case includes screenshots of the bookstore’s website.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by the federal government in 1990 to protect people in need of physical accommodations from discrimination; ADA compliance now extends to websites. Owners of websites that are not ADA compliant may face legal consequences.
Whether or not a store receives a complaint about their website, the primary goal of ADA compliance is inclusiveness, and stores should keep this in mind when updating their websites so that they are more accessible. Accessible websites support people who can use assistive technology to browse the Internet, promote a more welcoming environment within the book community, and help reach a larger population.
Overall, the best practice in ADA compliance is to be proactive. If you are contacted by someone suggesting that you are not compliant, test your website and make efforts to improve it immediately. You can also contact ABA with any questions by sending an email to [email protected] Booksellers can use WebAccessibility.com to test their website. This resource is free, and users can view up to five websites without a subscription.
For stores whose sites are hosted on the IndieCommerce or IndieLite platform, ABA has put together a detailed resource on how to improve the accessibility of your website. If you need further assistance after reviewing the ADA documentation, contact [email protected]
Learn more about the ADA 2021 website accessibility standards here.