Over the past two decades I’ve had the opportunity to work with numerous private equity and VC firms and have been through the due diligence process many times. This diligence has included all the usual suspects…. audited financials, ownership of intellectual property, customer contracts and the list goes on.
Well, there is a new item that should be on every investors’ checklist whether you are on the buy or the sell side. And, that is…”is this company’s website accessible to those with disabilities?” The Department of Justice has ruled that the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) now applies to the Internet not just the physical world. This means those who are visually, hearing, cognitively or physically impaired have rights to access digital content and websites at certain standards. Over the past eighteen months thousands of demand letters and hundreds of lawsuits have been filed in almost every vertical: retail, e-commerce, banking, travel and entertainment, casual dining, community banks, healthcare, real estate and the list goes on. If you own a consumer facing company(s) or are contemplating purchasing one, you are vulnerable.
The good news is that this is all fixable and it is not that expensive. Most of all, this is simply the right thing to do and is good for your business. There are 58 million Americans, according to the last census, that qualify as “disabled” under the ADA. And, if your site is accessible you will be heralded as good to do business with by the disabled community and to you go the spoils. The real opportunity is to embrace accessibility and make sure that all the companies in your portfolio….now or in the future…are “accessible”. No one wants to deal with the legal ramifications but, more importantly, being proactive has all of the benefits of being a good citizen and creating new revenue opportunities with a group of people who spend almost twice as much time on the Internet as those able bodied. And, the reality is we will all likely have some sort of disability as we age and this generation is entering their senior years with a technological aptitude heretofore never seen. Make doing business with your company’s portfolio easy for the disabled and those to be in the future.
This is an upside opportunity if done right. We would be happy to help you realize same.