ADA Compliance and SaaS eCommerce Platforms: Everything You Need To Know

Running an online business is not an easy task. In addition to generating sales and keeping the business afloat, they also have to focus on legal compliances or otherwise face unwanted lawsuits and hefty penalties.

With the tremendous rise in SaaS eCommerce platforms, lawmakers are designing stringent policies like PCI and ADA to secure the consumers’ interest. The PCI (Payment Card Industry) guidelines focus on providing a secure way of making payments online. Whereas ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines focus on eliminating bias and generating equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

Today we’ll cover everything to know about ADA guidelines, from its meaning and importance to its impact on the eCommerce website development.

What is the ADA?

The ADA was enacted in 1990 to protect the interests of Americans suffering from one or more disabilities. The long title describes it as An Act to establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.

What is Disability?

The ADA defines disability as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.” In this context, a mental impairment means but is not limited to dyslexia, cognitive disabilities, problem-solving, etc. Whereas physical impairment means but is not limited to deafness, blindness, partially or completely missing limbs, etc.

How does the ADA impact SaaS eCommerce platforms?

What is the connection between eCommerce websites and people suffering from disabilities? Imagine a blind person wanting to make a purchase from your online store. How will he/she be able to shop without seeing or knowing about the items available? This is where the ADA comes into play in the form of accessibility. In general sense, a SaaS eCommerce platform is considered ADA compliant when it is designed in a form to be accessible for people suffering from disabilities.

One of the best examples of accessibility is the option to enter ALT Text (alternative text) on Instagram. It aims to define the image in text format for a blind person via screen reader.

Example of ALT text being added to instagram post

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

All ADA compliance information is available online in the form of the WCAG 2.1. Some aspects are discussed below in brief and for detailed reading, click here. These guidelines cover a wide range of recommendations for making a website more accessible for people with disabilities.

The Four Principles of WCAG

The following four principles lay the foundation necessary for a user to access
and use the content available on the website. As per the principles, for
anyone visiting the website, the content should be:

Perceivable: It implies that the users should be able to understand the
information presented irrespective of any physical or mental disabilities.

Operable: It implies that the users should be able to interact with every
element of the eCommerce website.

Understandable: It implies that the eCommerce website’s user
interface and operability must be understandable for all.

Robust: It implies that information on an eCommerce website should
be compatible with the latest technologies and can be easily

Please visit WCAG’s web page to read about the principles in detail.

Levels of Conformance

Three levels of conformance are mentioned in the WCAG — A (lowest), AA (medium), and AAA (highest). Practically, most of the SaaS eCommerce platforms fall under the AA level of conformance. However, some websites might have to comply with the AAA level. To read in detail about the conformance requirements, click here.

Benefits of ADA Compliance

If you are still not convinced enough of building an eCommerce website that is ADA compliant, here are five good reasons for doing so:

Increases Your Target Audience: According to a survey conducted by the US government, almost 49.7 million people are suffering from long-lasting conditions or disabilities. If you make your online website more accessible for such people, it would proportionately increase the number of potential buyers.

Improves Your Store’s Online Visibility: Making your SaaS eCommerce platform more accessible will improve its search engine visibility, increasing traffic and expanding your audience accordingly.

Improve Your Store’s Reputation: Improving accessibility demonstrates professionalism and legitimacy, and this makes you stand out regardless of whether the buyer is disabled.

Overall Better Website Usability: ADA compliance not only helps in building an eCommerce website for people with disabilities, it also improves the overall interface and makes it more user-friendly. It makes the entire online shopping experience more positive, increasing credibility as well as sales.

Avoid Penalties: Users are becoming more and more aware of their rights, and with various government rules in place to protect their interests, non-compliance can cost any organization its reputation as well as money. Hence it goes without saying that, ADA will save your organization from potential lawsuits and hefty penalties.

Organizations have now started realizing the benefits of compliance and also the consequences of non-compliance with the ADA guidelines. We hope this article was able to provide some insight into various aspects of ADA compliance in eCommerce website development. For any feedback and/or suggestions, please write to us via the comments below.

Jyotsana Rankawat

eCommerce Consultant at Sarvika Technologies
Jyotsana Rankawat is a magician when it comes to managing and getting the job done. She completed her MSc in Business Administration from the University of Amsterdam and has researched on how CEO's bonding can help in the political activities of a firm. When not being a super awesome manager, Jyotsana likes to mentor deaf and dumb children in a public school in the city. She believes in being kind.

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