Your Law Firm’s Website and the ADA: What You Need to Know

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision is raising the importance of paying attention to whether your law firm’s website complies with the ADA.

As detailed by Bloomberg Law, the Supreme Court recently let a Ninth Circuit opinion stand that required Domino’s Pizza to make its website comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The result technically applies in the Ninth Circuit—Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington—but could affect the whole country.

So ideally your website should be ADA compliant, but what does that mean? The ADA, after all, dates to 1990 and didn’t mention websites at all.

The answer can be complicated. But here are some major tenets of website accessibility to consider:

  • Optimized media: You need to have alt tags, which are written descriptions embedded in your website’s code, for images, videos or even audio files. People with visual impairments, in particular, often use screen reader software that relies on alt tags to read and describe the content of websites.
  • A simple, navigable design: This is a fundamental best practice for law firm websites, for users with disabilities and all users. Your site’s features—including menus, links and everything in between—should be easy to decipher and navigate.
  • Standard HTML tags: This is a baseline requirement for ADA compatibility. It means every facet of your webpage should be available in plain-text form (removing the slick visual design elements), so people with disabilities can read or hear the page’s contents easily.
  • Navigability with a keyboard alone: This is an often-overlooked aspect of websites, but if you can’t toggle to the main pages of your site with only a keyboard, many people will disabilities won’t be able to use it.

Really, having an accessible law firm website is about more than just ADA compliance.

At our legal marketing firm, we focus on how best to reach potential law firm clients on their terms.

Consider whether your legal practice serves people with injuries or chronic health problems, such as in personal injury, workers’ compensation, long-term disability, Social Security Disability or veterans’ disability cases.

If so, a website friendly to people with disabilities is a smart way to make it easy for your intended audience members to interact with you—and choose your firm to represent them.

The Bloomberg Law article noted that much uncertainty still surrounds exactly what businesses should do to make their websites ADA compliant. At a minimum, the article said, you should provide a telephone number where users of screen reading software can call for help.

But a basic first step is just asking your digital marketing agency for more information about website accessibility.

If you’re concerned about your website’s ADA compliance, the law firm digital marketing experts at Firmidable can discuss it with you.

Firmidable has been a national expert in legal marketing for almost 30 years. It brings law firms customized, data-driven marketing strategies and services, including online and traditional media for a wide range of legal practices. From Maine to Hawaii, it has transformed the lives of attorneys—and their clients.

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About the Author: Chris Branch

Chris Branch is a digital copywriter at Firmidable. He strategizes, produces, implements and optimizes content for law firm websites and Paid Search advertising, helping firms across America reach new clients. Before joining Firmidable, Chris was a sports journalist and a marketer for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. When he's not crafting legal marketing content, he's likely overly immersed in an LSU sporting event or trying to perfect his queso recipe.