Why does ADA and WCAG WCAG, ADA Compliance matter to everyone? Have you ever seen someone with a disability struggling with something that most take for granted? perhaps they are in a wheelchair, and the elevator isn’t working. Or they have a hearing impairment and an announcement begins updating passengers about a change to the platform. 

Unless this happens right in front of you, it probably doesn’t cross your mind. Similarly, you have probably never considered what it is like to surf the web with a disability. How does a visually impaired person go online shopping? How are the hearing impaired provided with the instructions on a DIY video tutorial? Enter the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. 

What are the WCAG Guidelines?

WCAGs are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the World Wide Web Consortium. the main international standards body for the Internet. Simply put, they are a set of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. The list of recommendations is ever-changing, but it has actually been around a long time – published first in 1999. 

So why is this still an issue? Surely if people have been aware of these guidelines since 1999, all websites should be up to scratch by now? In case you missed it or can’t remember, here’s a snapshot of Netflix that year:

WCAG and ADA compliance is a moving target. This image showcases the usability and accessibility issues of Netflix.com in 1999.

How did anyone use that website? 

What about sites today – how do they stack up? Unfortunately, not much better. 98% of the world’s top one million websites don’t offer full accessibility. This is absolutely crazy with nearly 15% of global citizens (roughly 1 billion people) having a disability of some sort. 

The fact is that people don’t follow guidelines unless they are made into law. This was a driving force behind the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design

ADA compliance is the civil law that guarantees equal opportunity for disabled individuals in the public spheres of accommodation. What that means is that all electronic information and technology—i.e, your website—must be accessible to those with disabilities. 

Because ADA applies to all electronic information and technology, i.e., the world wide web and all its websites, ADA compliance applies to virtually all businesses and web developers. But to be more specific, ADA compliance applies to the following:

  • State and local government organizations
  • Private organizations that employ 15 employees or more
  • Organizations that work for the public’s benefit (i.e., public transportation, schools, restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, hotels, banks, accountant offices, law offices, social service centers, gyms, healthcare providers, the United States Postal Service, and so on)
  • Places of business that would be considered a place of public accommodation

Although ADA applies to businesses that operate in the US, other countries either have similar laws or are bringing them into effect. 


On June 20, 2018, the Government introduced Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada (the Accessible Canada Act) in Parliament. The Accessible Canada Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, and came into force on July 11, 2019. In Ontario we have the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Our AODA Compliant Web Development services ensure your website is accessible to everyone.

United Kingdom

The Equality Act of 2010 combined several equal access acts and regulations, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The Equality Act affects everyone in the United Kingdom that provides services to the public — or a section of the public — whether in the private, public or voluntary sectors. Since websites constitute a service to the public they are covered by Part 3 of the Equality Act.

What happens if my site is not up to WCAG or ADA standards?

If your website isn’t ADA compliant you’re at risk of a hefty lawsuit. Even if you unintentionally skipped the guidelines, you could still end up paying thousands of dollars in lawsuits if you’re website isn’t accessible to everyone. In addition to a lawsuit, you’ll also be facing the following for being non-compliant with ADA compliance standards:

  • Legal fees
  • A possible settlement
  • A possible public relations problem

Start thinking about your bottom line.

With all of this being said, 3.8 million U.S. adults aged 21-64 are blind or have trouble seeing, even with glasses. 71% of website visitors with disabilities will leave a website that is not accessible – doing the math, this means that over 2.5 million American web users won’t use your website if you’re not compliant. That is just people with sight issues. That is a lot of lost conversions! 

The disabled population in the United States alone contains $500 billion in spending power, with global spending power estimated to be $1.2 trillion. Companies that make online accessibility a priority are poised to capture their share of this profitable market. Those who don’t are missing out on a big piece of the pie!

What’s Next for WCAG & ADA Compliance?

You can read more about the specifics of WCAG/ADA and how we can help you either bring your site up to standard or improve your WCAG rating here.

If you want a WCAG compliance review of your website and an actionable list of things to change, contact us today!