How To Make Your Content More Accessible

How A Simple Website Update Can Earn You Money And Make Your Content More Accessible

There are huge incentives for businesses that make their websites compliant with the guidelines established by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). First off, you can avoid expensive and predatory lawsuits. And, second, you can receive a generous tax credit for doing the right thing.

The IRS’ Disabled Access Credit allows small businesses to qualify for a tax credit by making their websites ADA compliant.

How Much Could I Earn?
Depending on how much it costs to make these changes, you could get back up to $5,000 in tax credits.

It’s also important to explain this is not tax deductible. It’s a tax credit.

What’s The Difference?
Tax deductions work to lower your taxable income, also lowering your tax liability. A tax credit is basically free money. Well, essentially. Simply calculate your taxes, deduct the cost for your new website and pay off your taxes. Now when you file your taxes, add the Disabled Access Credit Form to your paperwork. Now, you have $5,000 in your pocket. Easy, right?

It doesn’t cost much to make these changes. In doing so, you are receiving a little extra cash while avoiding potentially devastating lawsuits. More importantly, you’re helping those with disabilities access much-needed services and products.

For the most effective results, we recommend getting your accountant involved. You want to make sure you are completing this process properly and effectively. While the process looks fairly straightforward on the surface, it may not be. Give yourself the best chance to not get sued and consult with an accountant.

If I Can Get Sued, Why Should I Do It?
Law firms are scouring the Internet, looking for companies that don’t appear to have an ADA compliant website. To be ADA compliant, a person with a disability must have the same access to your site and company’s services as those without disabilities, if not, you will be liable and should expect an imminent lawsuit.

As with many lawsuits, it’s easier to settle and then make the changes later. But businesses can avoid a “surprise” lawsuit and save money by making these changes now. It can also help to distinguish your business from the competition.

“As business owners, we must all take the high road and provide equal access to websites for those with disabilities.” Wise words from our CEO, Todd Paton, and it’s the moral high road many businesses fail to take.

While websites aren’t specifically addressed as part of the Disability-Related Tax Provisions, the possible accommodations your website could have are similar to other provisions the law addresses. Remember the Internet and websites weren’t business tools in 1990 when the ADA went into effect. However, considering how influential both have become, updating your website to comply with the ADA guidelines is essential.

“The ADA was responsible for a wide range of accessibility improvements,” said Paton. “Several [accessibility improvements] include, ramps improving access at public spaces to those in wheelchairs and braille symbols on elevators. The same standards are being applied to websites that should be able to provide services to those with hearing, seeing, and physical limitations.”

Paton went on to say, “With a few tweaks to a website, businesses can avoid lawsuits and do what is best for those with disabilities.” From that standpoint, the choice is very simple.

What Do I Need To Do To Make My Website More Accessible?
Firstly, let’s start with the text. Your website should have darker words and more contrast for the visually impaired. Creating darker outlines will also help. You should also give the user the ability to re-size the text. Users should have the flexibility to read your content however they want. If a user feels comfortable on your site, they’re more likely to come back.

To fully optimize your site and make it more accessible, you’ll need a few features. Re-sizing the text is one thing. Nevertheless, the user should also be able to zoom in or magnify pages to make the content easier to read. In this same manner, websites should also be mobile-friendly.

Secondly, captioning. Closed captioning, descriptive audio captioning and voiceovers. Any feature that appropriately explains each frame, verbalizes the content and provides further description should be standard. If YouTube, Netflix and even DVDs have this feature, your website should too.

Your website should be functional with different types of software. Head-tracking software for cursors, JAWS (Job Access With Speech) software providing speech and braille, slow keys to adjust the sensitivity of the keyboard and diction commands. No matter their disability, your website should have features incorporated into the system which enables the user to feel comfortable.

Honestly, if your website does not have a majority of these features as standard, you are behind the curve.

How Do I Qualify?
The process is pretty simple. To qualify, businesses must generate an annual revenue of less than $1 million or employ less than 30 full-time employees.

While in business, there’s no such thing as “free” especially when talking about money, but here there’s no catch. The cost to update your website is rather minimal in the grand scheme of things but the impact is huge! Regardless of the money and potential lawsuits, you are changing the landscape of marketing, website development and reaching potential demographics often less catered to. Individuals with physical limitations and or disabilities are often overlooked. Set the record straight create a website and content that’s easily accessible to all. It’s a small step that goes a long way.

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