Over the past month, several American Booksellers Association member stores have reported receiving letters from law firms that represent clients who are visually impaired. These letters state that the store’s website is not ADA compliant and, in at least one case, include frame grabs of the bookstore’s website.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by the federal government in 1990 to protect people who require physical accommodations against discrimination; ADA compliance now extends to websites. Owners of websites that are not ADA compliant can face legal consequences.
Whether or not a store receives a complaint about their website, the primary goal of ADA compliance is inclusivity, and stores should keep this in mind when updating their websites to be more accessible. Accessible websites support people who may use assistive technology to navigate the internet, foster a more welcoming environment within the book community, and help to reach a greater population.
Overall, the best practice regarding ADA compliance is to be proactive. If you are contacted by someone suggesting you’re not compliant, test your website and make efforts to improve it immediately. You may also contact ABA with questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Booksellers can use WebAccessibility.com to test their website. This resource is free, and users can check up to five websites without a membership.
For stores whose sites are hosted on the IndieCommerce or IndieLite platform, ABA has put together a detailed resource on how to improve the accessibility of your website. If you need additional assistance after reviewing the ADA documentation, contact email@example.com.