Website ADA compliance is critical to the success of your business, no matter what industry you’re in. Being ADA compliant means that your site is accessible and useful for disabled people who suffer from disorders that include hearing loss, vision disorders or lack of muscle control.

While ADA laws have existed since 1990, web content has been subject to severe scrutiny in recent years. Large corporations such as Amazon and Nike have also been sued, as have many other websites.

A first ADA infringement penalty can cost more than $75,000.

As a hotel administrator, it is important that you are able to meet the needs of every person who wants to engage with your business. As such, you need to take into account your customers’ unique needs when surfing the internet not just when they show up on your doorsteps.

If you don’t, travellers with disability do not have access to all the necessary information and you risk losing their business. Worse yet, you may actually be sued and end up paying handsomely for not having an ADA-compliant website.

Here’s a few quick things you need to know about website ADA compliance:

Screen readers:

People with visual impairments browse the internet with screen readers. Such programs interpret various websites a user visits  and read the contents to the user. To help screen readers interpret your website correctly, you need to make sure your site is coded in a way that allows screen readers to interpret your website correctly.

For example, according to this ADA compliance guide from Digital Authority Partners, a simple way to become ADA compliant is to make sure all your links include descriptive words that screen readers can pick up and share with their users to give a better understanding of your website navigation, page content and more.

For example, if you include calls to action (buttons) on your site like  “Learn more about us “, the words “about us” should be linked to the website with more details about your hotel. This may sound simple, but a lot of hotels don’t do this right.

If you use graphics (images, icons) to direct users on your site, each of this graphic must be tagged with the words that represent what those icons are all above in the form of alternative text for each graphic.   Tags or descriptions contained in your metadata will help screen readers communicate to blind people what those images and graphs show to a regular person.

Enabling sites for full keyboard access:

Persons with muscular control problems cannot often a mouse to navigate their website.

Instead, they usually use a keyboard to move and interact with your digital platform.

It is therefore important that you code your website in a ways that it can respond to keyboard commands, without ever needing to resort to a mouse to browse through your website. The most common example of keyboard navigation is “Tab” and “Shift plus” to move up and down or back through the page elements.

According to TGDaily, by including such commands on your website, you can guarantee that everyone can take full advantage of your website regardless of their disability. And by the way, this population, which require some sort of assistance to navigate the world wide web is NOT as small as you may think.

Why you should absolutely invest in making sure your site is ADA compliant

Nearly 20 percent of the American population has some kind of handicap that affects how they interact with a website. Just imagine, as a hotel, how much business you’re at danger of losing by simply having a website that doesn’t cater to 20% of its potential customers.

But ADA compliance can be seen as more than a nuisance. It’s a real opportunity.  Think about it: You’re competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of other hotels in your area to attract new customers. The majority of hotels all over the world have not even considered making their sites ADA compliant.

In fact, ADA compliance has only become an issue over the last year when, according to Healthcare Weekly, more than 10,000 hotels, universities, banks and hospitals have been sued over non-compliance. Most hotel owners will never consider fixing the issue unless they are sued themselves.

So rather than considering ADA compliance only as something you have to do to stay within the boundaries of the law – consider it as a great business opportunity. If you act now, you can literally be ahead of all your competition. That means more customers, more money, fewer empty beds and more reviews. Everyone wins!

But more importantly, being ADA compliant means that you care about a segment of the population which has been discriminated for the longest time. It’s the traditional conundrum: out of sight, out of mind.

What all these recent lawsuits show is a desire for this underrepresented group of people to no longer be ignored. By making your hotel website compliant, you show that you care, sympathize and agree with the fact that people with disabilities deserve to be served just as much as regular people.

It is the right thing to do.