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A Guide for Websites to Implement ADA Compliance
Many small business owners have to cope with the risk of becoming a target for hackers because of the nature of their business. Cybercrime is becoming a standard feature of modern day life, and new privacy regulations are continually piling on.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has made it clear that websites must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically e-commerce sites, which must comply with the accessibility requirements to do business with consumers. The following information will help you decide if your business is up to the task.
Here’s how you can make sure your website complies with ADA rules.
What Is ADA Compliance?
While individuals have the right to use technology when it comes to communication, there are often people with disabilities who are limited in their use of technology. Individuals with visual impairments, for example, may not be able to see a QR code or type in a URL with ease. The ADA is designed to change this reality and ensure that consumers’ access to website commerce is as simple as possible.
Under the ADA, you are required to design and build a website that allows sighted people to navigate the website with the same ease that they would browse any other website. There are a number of ADA compliance items that every website has to adhere to, including accessibility standards, toll-free phone number with the help phone number that can be programmed, and ordering forms.
How Does ADA Compliance Measure Up?
The National Center for the Rehabilitation of Handicapped People has analyzed a large number of businesses and has graded them on how well they comply with ADA compliance standards. The five standards were:
Equal Treatment For Everyone
Accessibility Level of Program or Device
Accessibility Level for All In Use
Accessibility Level of Signage
Understanding how these three standards are effectively enforced comes from years of fieldwork and data collection. Like many regulations, if you start off with a bad understanding of how the ADA works, you will run into major problems. The National Center for the Rehabilitation of Handicapped People has a much more in-depth resource online, along with ADA FAQ, which answers a lot of common questions about ADA compliance.
How is Compliance Made?
While the definition of compliance may vary from business to business, one thing is for sure: Your website must be compatible with all the devices, programs, and systems that your customer’s use today. Websites must be compatible with browsers, operating systems, Bluetooth keyboards, and voice authentication systems. This means that if you are building a website for your business, you need to ensure that any e-commerce platforms you build have the ability to work with these technologies. The original implementation of the ADA is important here, because many businesses started installing the act late on in its construction, thus losing all of its functionality.
Companies that can’t comply with the ADA standards put at risk the consumer experience of disabled customers, along with the overall business experience of the business and its employees. Taking a few minutes to build a website that is ADA compliant is absolutely worth it, so talk to your IT team about whether they are planning to implement a strict compliance protocol, or if the site will be kept up to date. The average cost of moving to compliant standards is only $8K, and the process of building the website is so easy that it takes only 15 minutes per site.
Is ADA Compliance Still A Concern For You?
Regardless of your business’s capability to comply with ADA compliance, many other websites are still overlooking the issue. There is a reason that most of the major companies, such as Expedia and Ebay, are ADA compliant, and they are known for providing an incredible consumer experience. This type of service is crucial, so many organizations aren’t spending the time and money to keep their sites ADA compliant. If your business is going to be properly compliant, you need to know that its competitors are working to make sure their websites work as effectively as possible. This means it’s your responsibility to ensure that you are well-positioned to do business with people who can’t communicate to you.
Is Your Electrical System Ready for the Winter?
An electrical inspection should occur at intervals that will allow you to schedule the work when it’s most cost effective.
The expense of having an electrical inspection performed should not supersede the critical benefits of getting the inspection performed.
The first best time to get an electrical inspection performed is just prior to the heating season. If the electricity in your home has been turned on, this is an excellent time to be given a chance to have the inspection performed. (There are many things that can go wrong with electricity right before winter so it is always a good idea to have the electrical system tested).
Spring is another good time to have the electrical inspection done. You can use the electricity in your home to heat up your home for several weeks so you’re likely to notice the leak coming up through the floor at that time.
In the fall months when the weather cools and the nights are shorter, an electrician can feel free to test for leakage. The system may need to be addressed.
Several months before the winter temperatures arrive there is the perfect time to have your electrical system tested and repaired. Once the temperatures reach colder than average levels this may not be the time to have the electrical system tested. It may be that the work requires more repairs which is when electrical inspections are made during the summer months.
Because the work needs to be done, the electricity likely needs to be turned off temporarily. You should discuss the results of the test with your electrician.
The electrical issue that needs to be repaired should be repaired and then turned on immediately. It doesn’t make sense to wait for the entire system to be repaired and then have the current turned back on.
The electrical emergency that you may experience will impact your sleep quality and probably lower your household energy bill. Even though an electrical emergency occurs during the day, electrical problems are very common in your home at night.
If you are getting an electrical inspection performed by a residential electrical contractor, make sure to get a copy of the Inspection Work Order. Keep copies of all test results, warranty notice and inspection work order in a secure place. An electrical inspection should occur at intervals that will allow you to schedule the work when it’s most cost effective.
What do ‘Growth Investors’ do?
Startups we invest in are at different stages of growth, and it’s hard to predict what kind of resources a company will need over the long-term. It’s more easy to keep up with current needs, like hiring key managers and developers, and of course the periodic capex investment in technologies and more.
But how are we able to offer Startups a best-in-class support team, to help them navigate the market and grow responsibly? There are several ways, from our speaking engagements to our other organizations, and one important one we keep coming back to is advice offered by fellow founders, investors and mentors.
Startups we invest in often reach out for guidance not only during the Series A, Series B, Series C stages, but during the later stages as well. For instance, they often reach out during the pre-funding period, when a startup can sometimes get a better understanding of the players at the early stages.
When we host our quarterly Fireside Chat series, a startup’s founders can ask other founders questions related to scaling. The Fireside Chat series has helped us assess the startups, gain some insights into their different stages and pivot them to what really need right now. We also helped founders who ran into barriers for finding fundraising.
We noticed that one of the biggest challenges founders had was maintaining the pace needed in the early days. We want founders to focus on solving their customers’ problems in their areas of expertise, and on product focus. We can’t meet all their needs and advise them on all their specific needs, but we can help guide them towards prioritizing.
As startups grow, we can provide funds based on their requirements, something which we feel our institutions, other members of the angel community and the Founders Forum can do as well. So, we’re launching a separate fund for these scalable companies, called “Startups we invest in.” Our fund will not fund startups in lower scaling stages as these companies tend to struggle a lot for funding.
A startup when it reaches Series A or B is certainly better off having the necessary resources. The natural natural progression happens from Series A to Series B, and so we need to look at these startup’s requirements and help them to achieve their original goals. We need to be able to inform them about the first few years of scaling while they’re still in their first or second months of operation.
We also look at a lot of macro trends, and some startups now are priced out of the market. They no longer have the option to pick a funding source because they couldn’t raise more funds through debt. We’re lucky to have something we can do to help those startups as they mature. We’re currently looking at addressing this entire period of early-stage startup development and building a sustainable ecosystem around them.