We know that car dealers are no stranger to the idea of protecting themselves from liability, and we also know that most dealers today are very aware that an online presence is important, if not vital, for driving sales. What you might not know, however, is that your website poses perhaps the biggest lawsuit threat to your business today.
More and more legal cases are popping up surrounding web accessibility, and it’s costing businesses thousands. Web accessibility refers to the adjustments and capabilities that can be added to a website to make it easier for people with disabilities to use Effuel. For example, just as your physical dealership property must have ramps and handrails to assist the disabled, your website should also have technologies that make it easier for everyone from hearing issues to physical impairments to use and interact with your site.
Unfortunately, most dealers are helping customers and busy with the million-and-one things they need to worry about, so company websites fall to the back burner (or are just outright ignored). Knowing this, we’ll address the three most practical questions about web accessibility:
- Is this really a common issue?
- How great of a legal threat is there if I do nothing?
- How do I implement the necessary changes in order to be compliant?
How Often Is Web Accessibility an Actual Problem?
The short answer? Way more than you think.
Today, about 61 million Americans have some type of disability; that’s 1 out of every 4 people. Whether you’re just serving your small town or if you have a whole franchise of dealerships that you run, you can apply the 1-in-4 statistic to your customer base and quickly see that the amount of users with a disability easily gets into the thousands.If your site is easy enough to use (and to have an enjoyable experience on) for those with specific requirements, you’re going to get that business. In addition to increasing revenues, establishing yourself as an early adopter of more inclusive technology is always a good idea.
What Are the Legal Consequences of Inaction?
Moving into the even more immediate consequences of leaving your site as it is, it’s been reported that there were 2,256 ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) lawsuits in 2019 related to web accessibility. These trends show absolutely no sign of slowing down and sites are being checked for accessibility more and more often.
As web accessibility becomes a more vocalized issue, you’re increasingly at risk of being sued by someone who tried to use your site and wasn’t able to, or by a legal team looking to sue owners of inaccessible sites. The payouts involved in these types of suits depend on a variety of factors, but the idea of calling your lawyer about a new discrimination case should leave any business owner shaking in their boots.
How to Get Started Making Your Dealership Website Accessible
Most in the car dealership industry are not experienced with managing websites and trying to comply with multiple different (and constantly changing) regulations, so it can sound like a massive headache or, quite frankly, an impossible task.
The beauty of the internet is that as quickly as it changes and evolves, it also brings more and more tools and ways of making our life easier. The web accessibility issue is just the same and there are now automated ways to make sure your site is up-to-date with current regulations and the needs of your customers. It’s recommended to invest in a solution such as accessiBe. This solution automates the process of making your web pages accessible and they guarantee ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliance. You will never have to worry about being compliant, or keeping up with staying compliant as you add new pages and content to your site.
If you are interested in dabbling in some changes on your own, check out this article for more information about how to edit your website to comply with ADA and WCAG rules and regulations.
Once again, between the threat of legal action and the hit to your bottom line by excluding customers from using your site, we highly recommend outsourcing the management of this to a third party. Not only will it be a major undertaking to figure out on your own, it will also save you money, and energy if you’re burning precious time that you could be devoting to your customers. Your bottom line should increase and you’ll avoid, by all accounts, a very unpleasant phone call with your lawyer.