The vast majority of businesses are required to be ADA-compliant at their physical locations, and concerns over compliance are extending to the digital realm. At Jump Suit Group, we strive to help independent insurance agencies’ websites as accessible as possible.
What Is ADA Compliance?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) passed civil rights laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating against people with disabilities. The act broadly products individuals’ access to various aspects of public life, which are broken down into sections that are referred to as “titles.”
The portion of the act that’s of interest to insurance agencies is Title III: “Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities.” In recent years, an increasing number of lawsuits have argued that this section should be applied to the websites of commercial businesses.
Do ADA Compliance Requirements Actually Extend to Websites?
The ADA’s language doesn’t specifically address websites, for the internet didn’t exist en-mass like it does today back when the law was passed over 30 years ago. Some legal minds have sought to extend the ADA’s requirements for physical locations to digital websites, however, and courts have largely agreed.
There were 2,285 lawsuits filed over ADA compliance and website accessibility in 2018, and a comparable number in 2019. These represent almost a 200-percent increase over the number filed in 2017.
What Constitutes an ADA-Compliant Website?
Because the act itself doesn’t specifically address websites, there isn’t a single definition of what constitutes an ADA-compliant and accessible website. Even some major national and international companies have websites that are less accessible than is ideal.
A lack of a definition and some non-compliant businesses aren’t legitimate reasons to not build an accessible website, though. The increase in lawsuits show that this will become a more widespread issue in the future, and businesses would do well to prepare by developing an accessible website now.
Even though there’s not a specific checklist of features that a website should have, we at Jump Suit Group have identified several best practices that make sites more accessible. To make their sites more accessible, insurance agencies can:
- Create accurate page titles that truly describe what’s on a page
- Write clear and easily understandable anchor texts for links
- Add alt text attributes to images
- Develop consistent navigational features across a site
- Include software overlay tools that adjust contrast and text size
Insurance agencies also can include a note suggesting that anyone who needs assistance contact the agency directly. Such a note doesn’t necessarily increase actual compliance, but it’s a good-faith effort in an area that has ambiguity.
Why Should Insurance Agencies Develop ADA-Compliant Websites?
The most obvious reason to maintain an ADA-compliant website is to hopefully avoid potential lawsuits over digital accessibility issues. This isn’t the only reason, though, and the other is especially relevant to insurance agencies.
Insurance agencies ultimately exist to make insurance more accessible. Agencies help clients sort through risk exposures and policy options so that they can select a solution that provides good coverage.
Developing ADA-compliant and accessible websites simply extends this function to the digital realm. As more and more people search for insurance policies online, these efforts will become even more important. An accessible website offers a way to reach people that an agency might otherwise miss and to promote goodwill among all visitors.
Get Help Building an Accessible Insurance Agency Website
If your insurance agency’s website is clunky, hard to use or otherwise inaccessible, reach out to us a Jump Suit Group. We specialize in insurance agency websites, and we’ve helped many independent agencies develop accessible websites. Let us show you what we can do for your agency’s site