Artificial intelligence has become a very important component of modern business practices. This is particularly true when it comes to web marketing, where AI is vital to UX design and helping connect customers with the right products and services.
One of the overlooked benefits of AI in website optimization pertains to ADA compliance. As the EEOC starts cracking down on companies with websites that violate the ADA, more businesses are using AI to make sure their websites are compliant.
What is ADA Compliance?
The ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is one of the most extensive civil rights bills passed into US law. The ADA is modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in that it ensures that people with mental or physical disabilities are not discriminated against in the workplace while purchasing goods and services and when participating in state and local government programs and services.
Until recently, the ADA was predominantly enforced in the physical world, such as when business owners failed to make adequate provisions for disabled customers (such as ramps, toilets, and handrails). However, we have witnessed a significant uptick in ADA cases being filed against website owners since 2017.
Title III of the ADA is now being applied to the online world, which means that website owners are subject to the same duty to make accommodations for those with disabilities as a physical business owner would be. In other words, if you operate an eCommerce store that operates in the United States, you are legally obliged to adhere to the ADA. Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at four reasons you need to make ADA compliance a top priority for your digital store.
AI Becomes a Valuable Tool for Ensuring Websites Are ADA Compliant
If you manage an eCommerce store, your main objective is to increase traffic to your site, so you can boost sales. Most of the time, this entails launching new ad campaigns, creating blogs to drive organic traffic, and investing in SEO to help your store rank higher in SERPS. While these are undoubtedly key factors of running an online store, it’s crucial that you do not overlook the importance of ensuring that your eCommerce site is ADA compliant.
AI technology has made it easier to conform to ADA standards. Evan Morris of Towards Data Science discussed this in one of his recent articles.
Morris points out that AI helps with automated testing. Companies can use AI technology to test hidden elements of their websites and can see how they perform under various browsers. This makes it a lot faster and easier to identify accessibility issues that users with disabilities will face.
Use AI to Reach More Potential Customers and Avoid Costly Lawsuits
The eCommerce business is a numbers game. The more visitors that come to your store, the more likely you will be to make a sale. It’s as simple as that. However, rather than spend your money on expensive ad campaigns, striving for ADA compliance could be one of the most effective ways to reach more customers. According to the World Health Organization, approximately one billion individuals live with impairment, or 15% of the global population. Of course, you also have to follow the ADA guidelines to avoid a costly lawsuit. Morris reports that the number of ADA lawsuits increased 51.7% between Q1 of 2017 and Q1 of 2018.
Furthermore, the Return on Disability Group reports that people with disabilities control approximately $13 trillion in annual disposable income. That’s a lot of cash! As a result, the disabled demographic is one of the most profitable market sectors worldwide, so making your website more accessible can help you significantly improve profits.
You are going to need to use AI to address these concerns. Here are some strategies you can take to employ artificial intelligence to adhere to ADA policies:
- Be aware of ADA web accessibility tools that use AI. These include accessiBe, Max AI, UserWay and Equally AI.
- Be familiar with all of the requirements for ADA compliance. This includes things as specific as the color of your links on menus three levels deep. You can use an AI tool to check these requirements.
- Use a machine learning tool to automate compliance. You can have it check website changes in real-time to ensure they remain compliant.
- AI tools can crawl websites and inspect images to make sure they all contain alt tags for people that can’t view the images.
AI technology can do a lot to create an ADA-compliant site. You have to make sure that it meets the requirements.
Boost a Holistic Brand with AI Technology
Branding is a vital aspect of eCommerce success. In many ways, the public perception of your brand can make the difference between a multimillion-dollar store and one that barely breaks even. By making ADA compliance a priority, you demonstrate to the public that you care about accessibility and care for all website visitors. After all, taking a strong stand against discrimination, injustice, and inequality is a fantastic way to garner respect and establish a solid reputation, especially in a society where social justice concerns are becoming increasingly prominent.
You will find a number of other ways to create a brand centered around social justice and equality with AI. You will be able to use AI to learn more about different groups by data mining public records and tailoring your message to them.
Protect Yourself Against Lawsuits
Web accessibility lawsuits citing ADA violations hit a record high in 2021, according to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility. To make matters worse, eCommerce stores are one of the most commonly sued websites, probably due to the fact that they tend to have hundreds of different pages and constantly changing content. Furthermore, as many larger companies address their accessibility concerns and comply with the ADA, smaller eCommerce sites will be next in line. The best way to protect yourself against these lawsuits is by making your website accessible with AI and reaching ADA compliance.
Improve your site’s overall user experience with AI
One of the most significant advantages of an accessible site is that AI will provide a significantly improved user experience – for all users. Smooth navigation, easy-to-understand language, and non-clashing colors will benefit everyone who visits your site. It can even lower your bounce rate by encouraging people to stay longer on your site.
In fact, one of the most critical factors determining how well your eCommerce site performs is the quality of the user experience, particularly when it comes to navigation. When viewing a website for the first time, 38% of visitors focus on the layout and navigational elements. Customers who can’t find the items they want to buy promptly are more likely to leave, resulting in the loss of a revenue-generating opportunity.
Do the right thing
The ADA is there for a reason. It isn’t there to be taken lightly, and it certainly isn’t there so website owners can make a token effort towards accessibility with big data and AI. It exists so that those with disabilities can enjoy the same perks, benefits, and access the same facilities as everybody else. Therefore, it is your duty as a store owner to make provisions for your disabled users, so they can engage, interact, and purchase products and services seamlessly.
Remember, this will protect you from lawsuits, but it will also increase your exposure to one of the most lucrative market segments in the world while providing a wide variety of benefits to both you and your users.