WARNING: Franchisors across the country are being sued for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act legislation mandating that all websites be accessible to disabled individuals.
Predatory attorneys like this Arizona man who sued over 2000 businesses are combing the web for targets, looking to line their pockets under the guise of championing disability rights. And the majority of franchisors didn’t even know their websites were in violation!
Today’s post is not meant as a complete ADA compliance website checklist for franchises, but rather spotlights the top-5 most common and costly violations that we see. If you would like to learn more about the ADA’s 300-item checklist and whether your website is in compliance, talk to our team. Otherwise read on for our rundown of the “frequent five” ADA compliance issues for franchise websites.
Use of flashing media.
There’s no doubt that flashing animations are eye-catching, which makes them a popular choice for franchise website pages announcing exciting brand updates, grand openings, and limited-time offers. Wiping your franchise website clean of these attention-grabbers is unnecessary, but specific criteria must be met to ensure that they do not pose hazards to the health of certain users.
The Level AAA success criterion for flashing media states that the franchise website should not include any media that flashes more than three times in any one second period. This is referred to as the “Three Flashes or Below Threshold.”
Moreover, any motion animation triggered by interactions (such as hovering the mouse cursor over the media, clicking through, or landing on a particular page) must have an “off” switch. If users cannot disable these animations, your franchise website is technically noncompliant.
Excessive jargon and other undecipherable copy.
Depending on which industry your franchise is involved with, jargon might be part and parcel of daily business. Including jargon and other unusual words (including those that qualify as requiring an advanced reading level to grasp) on your website isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, factoring jargon into SEO keywords is often recommended as a way to attract industry-insiders. But ADA compliance requires that you take special care when including idioms, jargon, abbreviations, and other copy that requires an “advanced reading level” to understand.
The ADA’s Level AAA Success Criterion for “Reading Level” mandates that any jargon, abbreviations, or text requiring reading ability more advanced than the lower secondary education level include a mechanism for identifying specific definitions and expanded forms.
Inadequate text resizing options.
Visual impairments are extremely common, and growing more so everyday. In 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association: Ophthalmology estimated the prevalence of low vision and blindness for older adults in the United States would more than double within the next 30 years (Chan et al., 2018, p. 12-14). Accordingly, your franchise website needs simple and intuitive text resizing options.
According to the ADA compliance website checklist, your franchise site must allow users to resize text up to 200% without the use of any assistive technology. Moreover, as with mobile-responsive site criteria, this resizing should not affect the content or functionality of your website in any way.
Limited keyboard navigation.
Any visitors to your website must be able to fully operate the page through keyboard control alone. That means no part of your website should be accessible only by clicking on links or buttons that cannot be reached by “tabbing” your way there, or using the arrow keys. This doesn’t mean that mouse input is forbidden, but rather that the entire site must be keyboard-accessible.
Improper use of alt text.
“Alt text” refers to the text alternatives provided for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms users may need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language. Alt text is most commonly provided for images. But it’s often used improperly; for example, rather than actually describing the non-text media in question, the alt text is used to sneak in a few extra keywords for local SEO. This may seem like a good way to inch past your local franchise competition (side note: it’s not!), but it’s also a major ADA violation.
ADA compliance beyond the “frequent five”
So you’ve determined that your franchise website managed to avoid these 5 common and costly pitfalls. Great!
But there’s bad news: this list is by no means exhaustive.
In fact, our ADA compliance website checklist consists ofmore than 300 separate items, all of which must be adhered to in order to protect your brand from opportunistic attorneys.
Our team will audit your franchise website from top to bottom using a series of top ADA compliance tools, then work with you to develop a plan and implement these critical changes. And we’ll do it fast.
Call us at 905-564-0020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free consultation with our ADA compliance team.