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Breaking: NYC Ecommerce Brands Being Sued For Not Being ADA Compliant

By Kevin Simonson, CEO/Co-Founder, Metric Digital

Gizmodo’s article reported today about a legally blind woman who filed a class-action lawsuit against beauty brand Glossier for failing to create an accessible website.

According to the article, the woman, Kathleen Sypert, claims that she “encountered multiple access barriers” when visiting the website, denying her and other visually impaired and legally blind users equal access to Glossier’s amenities.

But she’s not alone. 

Many ecommerce websites have come under fire in the last few years for the same reason. Retailers have been increasingly subjected to lawsuits for not being ADA compliant. (Racked published another helpful article which chronicles the arc of this trend from a legal standpoint).

Will your company go down in flames too?

Here are the two key questions that matter most to your brand:

  1. How might this trend affect your ecommerce business?
  2. What can your company do to better comply with these laws?

The implications of ADA regulation on your company

From a business perspective, this is more a development and SEO issue than it is a marketing issue. You should certainly discuss this trend with all of your internal teams, especially the design and technically focused one. Because compliance not only affects your website, but also has implications from an email perspective.

Cory Smith, our agency’s VP of Email, reminded us that some customers out there file lawsuits to companies who don't make their emails (and especially their unsubscribe processes) ADA compliant on a regular basis. It’s part of the reason we try to encourage our clients not to do emails that are solely image based.

Here's one example of an email that we would consider to be poorly executed.

Even for users with normal vision, these programming and design standards are not accessible. And so, we can’t imagine how frustrating the user experience must be for an individual in a situation of visual impairment.

Design and development tips to better comply

As for making your website ADA compliant, here are a few resources from two credible organizations. 

First is the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit. This provides information on website accessibility.

Next, The Bureau of Internet Accessibility is an organization whose mission is make the Internet accessible to everyone. Their digital asset testing is conducted in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, categorized by their four principles:

  1. Perceivable
  2. Operable
  3. Understandable
  4. Robust

You can read more about these guidelines on their website. It’s an excellent primer on designing and develop brand assets that are compliant.

Next, BIA’s Website Accessibility Checklist is a must read for any digital marketer.

The good news is, even if your company didn’t consider ADA compliance during your website’s design process and account for accessibility measures, it’s not too late. 

You can still make changes that will increase overall usability and make your ecommerce business available to a larger audience. 

And avoid coming under fire for discriminatory business practices.

Kevin Simonson CEO & Co-Founder, Metric Digital The Metric Digital Blog A Blog on All Things Digital Marketing