The Most Comprehensive Guide to SEO & ADA Compliance on the Internet

Why should you care about ADA and SEO?

Thirty-nine million people are blind, and 325 million are visually impaired. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), websites must be accessible to the visually impaired. Unfortunately, many websites neglect to make their content — both written and visual — accessible to the large population of potential customers with visual impairments. 

SEO can help with ADA compliance; there’s a significant overlap between SEO initiatives (images alt text, anchor links, heading tags, and more) and accessibility initiatives. 

Screen readers, for example, are similar to search engine crawlers in that they utilize page code to navigate and understand the content.


Increase In Lawsuits Since 2018


Of Websites Sued More Than Once


Of Websites Are Inaccessible


Of The Population Has A Disability

The Hard Truth

“If your SEO or performance marketing agency hasn’t talked to you about ADA compliance, fire them. Web accessibility is a human right easily improvable using SEO. If you couldn’t do something as simple as ordering pizza online, how would you feel? That’s how Guillermo Robles felt and why he sued Dominos Pizza. We created this guide as a labor of love to help you optimize and to demonstrate how SEO impacts ADA compliance.”

Lavall Chichester
AdAge 40 under 40 Founder

The Main Points

Use SEO to help your ADA compliance — improve accessibility and search visibility.
Install software like Accessibe as additional support to the SEO ADA work.
Find an ADA Compliance specialty company to become 100% ADA compliant.

SEO and ADA compliance are symbiotic — they function together, increasing visibility and access to your website and content.

SEO: Increases content visibility (websites, videos, images, apps, etc.) on search engines.

ADA compliance (web accessibility): Increases the accessibility to (websites, videos, images, apps, etc.) in screen readers that function much like search engines.

SEO + ADA compliance: Gives your brand and content maximum visibility and protects you from lawsuits like what happened to Dominos. And they’re not the only ones, here are more examples of ADA lawsuits.

What is Web Accessibility?

“Web accessibility is a set of rules, behaviors, code standards and design guidelines, that are meant to allow people with disabilities to effectively use websites.

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) is not new; it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. While always a vital Act for the country to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities, it has become increasingly important in today’s fast-paced digital world.

Since 1990, millions of people have grown to use and depend on the internet.

The internet has become one of the most vital tools for communication, information, and entertainment in today’s globalized world. As of 2020, more than half of the population uses the internet. While some regions still lack the infrastructure needed to provide sufficient online coverage, others see internet penetration rates of close to 100 percent. 

Among the most prominent online markets globally, the United States ranks third with over 313 million active internet users nationwide. As a global hub of technological innovation and home to some of the world’s leading internet companies, the United States has increased its digital population for over two decades. Today, over 85 percent of Americans have access to the internet, many of whom could no longer imagine a life without it.


Internet Users In The United States


Internet User Penetration In The United States


Mobile Internet Users In The United States

Today, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reports that the U.S. has a population of 325 million. Of those U.S. residents, about 50 million people or more face challenges while living with a disability that falls under the ADA.

What is ADA Compliance?

To be ADA compliant, the Americans with Disabilities Act states that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities.

All businesses need to be compliant, but it’s particularly essential for public-facing entities.

Public transportation needs special safety features and priority seating.
Civil engineering departments provide safe walkways and ramps throughout cities.
Government, nonprofit, and private sector businesses with stairways and parking lots or parking garages provide ramp access, safety handrails, and accessible parking spots.

On September 15, 2010, the Department of Justice revised regulations for Titles II and III of the ADA, adopting and enforcing new accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. This revision reflects society’s increasingly digital nature, calling to ensure that web accessibility is a fundamental right for Americans with disabilities.

The ADA now encompasses much more beyond the daily external, physical realm. It reflects the internet’s critical nature for everything from work and shopping for essentials to browsing for pleasure or gaming. The crux of the law is to ensure that everyone can experience the internet equally.

What Business Types Need To Comply

The following types of organizations must comply with ADA Standards for Accessible Design:

State and local government agencies
Any place of public accommodation is required to be accessible
Nonprofit or businesses that run for the good of the public

If you are a business it is important to design and run a website that everyone can use.

Practical things businesses are doing to comply with ADA web accessibility guidelines include:

Providing tools like screen readers
Facilitating the use of keyboard-only access to consume online content
Including videos, audio recordings, blog posts, and specialized online services

Ultimately, a website must be perceivable, operable, robust, and easy to understand.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Are Available for Review

People need help understanding the ADA policies to comply. Many business leaders visit the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and other resources like Accessibe and Growth Skills to learn about providing web accessibility.

ADA Compliance Lawsuits & Statistics

You might wonder how businesses are doing as far as ensuring ADA web accessibility. Judging by the stats, many companies still struggle to comply. 

According to the United States Courts, the percentage of ADA-related civil rights cases has soared, increasing by 395 percent from 2005 to 2017.

In November 2020, Forbes shared that people filed about 11,053 ADA Title III web accessibility-related federal lawsuits in 2019, a 9 percent increase over 2018. 

The top three states facing the most issues with compliance are New York, California, and Florida.

ADA Compliance Can Keep Your Business Safe From Lawsuits and Protect Your Brand

While it might seem confusing, there are resources available to ensure that your website speaks to everyone, including those with various disabilities. 

Updating your site will help you avoid facing expensive and reputation-damaging lawsuits while simultaneously showing that you care about the rights of people with disabilities.

The Intersection of SEO and ADA compliance Explained

Put simply, good SEO aids ADA, and ADA compliance improves your SEO. 

Business executives, marketers, and web admins all know the importance of growing their organic search acquisition channel. SEO drives the most traffic to websites across industries and business models. 

That organic traffic results in more conversions and higher revenue. 

What if we told you that avoiding an ADA lawsuit and growing your profits go hand-in-hand?

Even Beyoncé’s official website got sued for ADA compliance. And guess what was on the list of non-ADA compliant elements:

No Alt-Text On Images
No Accessible Drop-Down Menus

These are both SEO ranking factors.

Calculate your return on investment (ROI) 

Still not convinced of the importance of investing in SEO and ADA? Let the numbers speak for themselves. Calculate your potential ROI by comparing average costs for yearly professional SEO support with ADA lawsuit settlements’ expenses.

*SEO Annual Investment


What you get:

More Site Traffic, Leads and Revenue
Improved ADA Compliance

**ADA Investment


What you lose:

Money & Time
Brand Reputation & Customers

* Any reputable SEO agency is going to charge at least $10,000 a month.

** Some cases are settled for $20, 000 each. Target paid $6 million in a class action ADA lawsuit. That does not include the $4 million in legal fees for lawyers and the hours wasted in court. The damage to your brand reputation can’t even be calculated. 

Read More About The Price Of ADA litigations

Read More About The Top ADA Lawsuits

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