Is Your Hotel Website ADA Compliant?

 In Hotel Marketing, Website Design

If you’ve been just humming along, feeling pretty good about your hotel website’s look and feel, here is some news you need to know. The evolution of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has transcended the physical boundaries of our world and is no longer just about bathroom access and Braille versions of books.

In 2010, the Department of Justice deemed that any website selling a service or good may be liable if their website was not ADA compliant, even if there isn’t a physical location of sale. This particularly impacts hotels, and the ways your site is set up for maximum accessibility for the disabled. It may not have even crossed your mind when you first built it, but lawyers who file suits against companies for ignoring ADA compliance love pulling in petty cash from the deal. The judges in these cases have a tendency to favor the plaintiffs, as you might imagine. So, how can you avoid this substantial nuisance? Make sure your property’s website is ADA compliant, and get it done as soon as possible!

A Brief History of the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a government program to aid the disabled in their pursuit of equality, from prohibiting discrimination in employment to securing their public accommodations. It was created in 1990, and later extended their rights to the internet. The ADA took to the internet to make sure that the disabled, mainly the blind and deaf, had equal opportunities to browse the web, and online shop, just as the nondisabled do. Everyone enjoys a good Amazon splurge every once in a while, so the ADA is there to ensure that all of us have equal access to bad decisions, like buying that Nicholas Cage mug that looked amazing at 3:00 a.m…

How Do I Know if My Hotel’s Website is ADA Compliant?

Unless you were told when you built your website that it is ADA compliant, it probably isn’t. In reality, it’s not overly complicated to make your site ADA compliant; you just have to put in the time to make changes that fit the regulations. The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) guidelines were cited in 2016 when UC Berkeley was ruled by the Department of Justice to be in violation and was not ADA compliant. Named the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, these show content developers the exact steps they need to follow to build an ADA compliant website. The ADA also has a checklist you can follow to check if your site is indeed ADA compliant.

What Should Be The Main Goals for My Website?

There are guidelines for the accessibility of your website, but you also have to balance that by creating an enticing presence that will appeal to everyone, regardless of physical limitations. Here are four example areas that your site should address:

  • The text has to meet a specific level of contrast against the background. This can have a significant impact on your design.
  • You must be able to fully navigate your website with only a keyboard. Usually, this will include buttons that enable you to entirely skip the navigation.
  • Your website should be compatible with screen reader software. This is often challenging to test and may require substantial time and effort.
  • Your website must be able to scale up to 200% without creating any layout issues with scrolling or loss of content.

Those categories illuminate the fact that your hotel’s website needs to be easily understandable, and accessible to people of all abilities. Some of the primary goals also include putting subtitles on any videos, creating HTML tags on photos, and writing descriptions of any links on your website. Again, all of the guidelines can be found on the checklist to ensure you have peace of mind that attorneys will not be looking to you for a quick fix to their cash flow problems.

Do I Need to Make My Hotel Website ADA Compatible Now?

Though it hasn’t become law yet, Forbes notes that in 2018 at some point, there will likely come a time when a proposal will move through the Department of Justice that all public websites providing goods or services must be ADA compliant. The hotel industry will become a direct target because almost all hotels now employ the use of booking engines. My guess is since everyone will have to follow these guidelines, there will be a plentiful resource of people who can update or redesign your website to make it ADA compliant. There’s no official word on how long they’ll give businesses to make the switchover, but if it’s happening in 2018 as appears likely, I would try to get it done ASAP. Better safe than sued.

For more information on how your hotel’s website can become ADA compliant, send us a message or give us a call and we will get you updated.

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