Localized IQ

Have You Considered ADA Compliance for Your Website?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in the United States in 1990. This civil rights legislation prohibits discrimination against individuals with a disability in any area of public life.

That includes schools, employment, transportation, and places open to the general public. Over the past 30 years, these guarantees created several visible changes in society. Buildings received ramps, employers provided reasonable accommodations for individual workers, and communication relay services got implemented across the country. Now we’re asking a crucial question about the ADA today: is it supposed to apply to individual websites?   Does the Department of Justice Believe the ADA Applies to Websites? Congress attempted to get more clarity about ADA compliance for websites in a 2018 letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ answered by saying that it believes that Title III of the ADA applies to websites of public accommodations. Even if there is an absence of affirmative regulations, it does not excuse the need to provide a service to those who require it. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible. Because there is an absence of standards currently, the DOJ has not yet endorsed web content accessibility guidelines as a legal standard. That means Internet content is in somewhat of a gray area. Public accommodations do have some flexibility in how they comply with the ADA’s requirements. If your website doesn’t offer reasonable accessibility to someone with a disability, then you could be the legal precedent that brings Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) into the ADA. Although it may not be a mandated requirement, taking this non-discriminatory approach is still considered a best practice. How to Use WCAG to Your Advantage The latest version of WCAG consists of principles, guidelines, and success criteria. Your website content should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These are testable statements that define how your site conforms to the current set of guidelines. Here’s a closer look at these principles of accessibility and how they apply to your website today.
  1. Perceivable
The content published on your website must get presented in a way that a visitor can perceive it. That means it must be accessible and noticeable using their senses. If someone has a visual impairment, can they read the blog post you just created?
  1. Operable
Your navigational and interface components must be operable by all visitors. It cannot require people to perform an action that they cannot physically or mentally complete.
  1. Understandable
Visitors must have the capacity to understand the information presented on your website. The operation and the content cannot be beyond their comprehension.
  1. Robust
Your website content must be strong enough that it can be readily interpreted by a variety of assistive technologies and individuals. No one can or should guarantee a website that gets built or modified today is ADA-compliant. Business owners should always seek professional legal advice regarding this matter or reference their professional association as it relates to their industry. How to Protect Yourself in Uncertain Legal Times There were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in 2018 in federal courts. That’s a 181% increase from the previous year, with most of the litigation originating in New York or Florida. Private businesses can’t usually be sued for damages if an ADA compliance issue goes to court. Companies get brought into litigation for compliance and attorney fees. If a small business owner decides to settle or loses their case, then they must pay attorney fees and agree to reach ADA compliance by a specific deadline. Instead of reaching out, a lawsuit gets filed, and most owners didn’t even realize that there was a potential issue with their website. It’s challenging legislation to win. Even if you get your site into compliance after going to court, several rulings have noted that there is no guarantee a future update will maintain that standard. You can take some steps you can follow today to reduce your risks during these uncertain times of litigation.

Your content should be coded for audio translation so that screen-reader software can communicate it to a visitor. Having on-screen captions in videos can provide reading services to those with visual impairments and descriptions for anyone with hearing difficulties.

It also helps to have accessible drop-down menus if someone uses a keyboard instead of a mouse for website navigation.

There are no laws on the books to follow because the ADA became law before the Internet became readily available. You can take steps to protect yourself from the flurry of lawsuits in this space by performing a free ADA compliance scan from Localized IQ. We use WCAG 2.0 compliance as the standard for checking the current status of your website. It may not be the law, but that statement may change in the future.

If you haven’t had your website evaluated yet, then take this opportunity to see where you stand. Getting ahead of the curve is the fastest and easiest way to protect your interests.

 

Leave a comment