How Do Digital Agencies Deal with ADA Compliance?

Professionals in business casual attire look at a desktop.

Website owners aren’t the only ones affected by ADA compliance and website accessibility. Any number of digital agencies are too.

Web design, web development, and many other types of agencies are indirectly implicated in ADA website compliance because their clients are concerned or have already been sued.

In fact, most of my consultations of late have been with web development agencies trying to figure out how they should deal with ADA compliance. Here are some questions that usually come up:

  • Is there any specific contract language we should use?
  • What needs to be compliant?
  • What tools should we use?
  • What do we need to do so we don’t get sued?
  • Should we offer services?

And, so I don’t leave you hanging, here are the quick answers:

  • Yes, I would include a section in your services agreement that specifically addresses accessibility.
  • For Title III, generally, all of your public-facing assets (website, content, documents, etc.) need to be ADA compliant. But lawsuit risk is by far the highest with websites. You have to prioritize what you work on.
  • WAVE by WebAIM and Tublets by DigitalA11y are very good tools. Both are free. But there is no software, app, etc. that can basically take care of accessibility for you.
  • A first step to limiting liability is to address accessibility with your clients. Another step is updating your contract language. Of course, there is also risk from plaintiffs’ lawyers suing you directly so you must make your own digital experiences accessible. It’s impossible to prevent lawsuits altogether (i.e., anybody can sue anybody), but you can make legal action highly unlikely.
  • Whether or not you offer accessibility services depends on your agency’s preference. Even if you white label, accessibility services have a lot of friction involved. The easiest approach is simply to refer and take a commission. However, there are also many benefits to taking accessibility in-house (e.g., 100% of the money, more seamless process). The question becomes, does the learning curve, additional workload, and potential risk offset the benefits?

How Should Your Agency Approach ADA Compliance?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The answer will depend on your preferences.

The three primary approaches are:

  • Avoid accessibility altogether: You want to stay away from drawn out professional services, compliance, and lawsuits and decide not to get involved. You write accessibility out of your contracts and tell clients this isn’t your expertise so someone else is better for it.
  • Fully embrace accessibility: Accessibility and ADA compliance are here to stay so you may as well push hard to learn the trade and incorporate it into your services. You’ll train your team, bring on contractors or new employees, and use this as an opportunity to gain a big marketing advantage.
  • Hybrid approach: You decide to leverage accessibility and ADA compliance to your advantage, but partner with an accessibility service provider so that you can limit risk and continue your operations mostly as-is.

And, of course, there are many nuances and different dynamics possible within each approach.

The hybrid approach will be the best choice for most. I can understand the pull towards keeping things simple and focusing on what you do best, but accessibility is coming to a movie theater near you whether you want to deal with it or not.

Stated another way, your clients need to make their websites accessible. If you’re responsible for or working with their websites in some way, you’ll be involved with accessibility in some form or fashion.

Because of this, you may as well understand what you’re dealing with and be equipped to deal with accessibility and compliance.

Which leads me to my new course, ADA Compliance for Web Agencies.

In this course, I provide the foundational knowledge you need to understand what you’re dealing with and I also guide you through some of the key pain points.

The course includes lessons on:

  • Emailing clients and letting them know about ADA compliance and accessibility
  • Positive and transparent messaging that accurately paints the current situation
  • Contract language for accessibility and compliance
  • Marketing and how to turn ADA compliance into a real opportunity to become a leader in your niche

The course also includes customizable templates / template shells for:

  • Contract language for accessibility
  • Email to clients
  • Accessibility statement

The templates are all downloadable in Microsoft Word format.

The course is approximately 1–1.5 hours in duration and takes an agency owner through the primary considerations of addressing and approaching ADA compliance and accessibility.

You can learn more about ADA Compliance for Web Agencies on