If Your Website Isn’t ADA Compliant, You May Have To Face Litigation

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When you’ve undergone a website project, you know the protocol like the layout, the sitemap, the functionality, responsive, etc. But have you ever thought about how accessible your website is to all users? 

A website is a welcome door to your business. Also, it is the doorway to take your business that takes it on a hike as well as deteriorate the value. The reason behind unsuccessful web design can be the experience or we can say the problems faced by users who are not able to access your website effectively. 

Web accessibility has become the prime concern for organizations about the liability risk of websites that are not ADA compliant.

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

The first thing for every business owner is to know what actually ADA compliance states. In a layman language, ADA compliance is the “American Disability Act” which was enacted in 1990 for website owners to add special features in the websites so that everyone can easily access it including people with many disabilities. Now the question is, how can you add special features? And the answer is, consider the below points for which type of challenges you can give facility on your website that would become easy for them to access it. The disabilities covered in ADA are:

  • Blindness
  • Hearing impairments
  • Mobility/Musculoskeletal
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurological/Cognitive
  • Cerebral Palsy

How Do ADA Compliant Websites Work?

Talking about the performance of ADA compliant websites, these websites work according to the ease and comfort of the users who are unable to access the website.

The websites work for web visitors with visual impairments efficiently with features like keyboard navigation and compatibility with screen reader tools. 

For individuals with hearing impairment, the website must include features so that they can take full advantage of media. This can be done by adding text transcripts that offer an alternative for consuming audio and video content. 

Moreover, there are many people suffering from mobility challenges who need a more reliable method. The ADA compliant website should consider their difficulty of clicking links and buttons and add an alternative as reliable methods for them. 

The problems facing individuals with neurological impairments are often less obvious. People with cognitive disabilities may face flashing images, moving texts be too challenging to comprehend.

Steps To Make Your Website ADA Compliant 

After analyzing your website, still, you are not satisfied to ensure that your website is ADA compliant or not. Here are a few steps to make your website according to the law. 

  • A good first step is having a basic knowledge of ADA compliance. 
  • A website audit is the best option to go with in order to get a complete report to determine the level of compliance or non-compliance. 
  • You can publish an accessibility statement on your website. It may help hold off a lawsuit if you have demonstrated a clear plan for an ADA compliant website.

Isn’t Your Website ADA Compliant? You Are More Likely To Face Litigation

It’s a myth that web design and user experience suffers when websites are built to comply with the ADA. It’s also a myth that websites lose ideal, user-centric functionality when they become ADA-compliant. These myths lead to the website towards non-ADA-compliant websites.

As a consequence, chances are more likely to face a lawsuit if a person with disability claims they cannot access your website. You might undergo legal fees, a possible settlement, a potential public relations problem, and the cost of rebuilding your website so as to comply with the ADA. 

Learn about all the following risks of not having the ADA compliant website and protect your business or organization.

Federal Court 

There are many risks to a non-ADA compliant website. The biggest risk is a potential lawsuit from the plaintiff with disability claims they do not have adequate access to the content on your website. Most of the lawsuits fall under the following categories:

  • A consumer who cannot access or purchase goods and services on the eCommerce website. 
  • A student who is not able to access the website of the university to apply online due to his disability.
  • A person who is interested to fill out a job application online but cannot access the website. 

The Rising Trend of ADA Website Compliance Lawsuits

If you are in a dilemma that whether your website needs to be ADA compliant or not then you must need to know a legal blog -The Seyfarth ADA Title III & Insights, that’s been tracking the rise of ADA website compliance lawsuits, 751 suits have been filed against website owners since the start of 2015, with 432 of these suits being filed in the first half of 2017 alone.

This alarming trend is throwing the online world into a frenzy. Website owners, major corporations, and digital publishers are uncertain of whether they’re legally obliged to make their content more accessible to users with disabilities. The main reason for this puzzle is the lack of legal consensus on which website falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and the ADA. Websites fall into this category are considered as “a place of public accommodation”. This is essentially an extension of a physical location such as a brick and mortar store at a university. 

The Winn Dixie Case

A grocery store chain in Florida, Winn Dixie came up with some of these issues when it became the first ADA website compliance lawsuit. The plaintiff argued that 90% of the website is inaccessible using the software JAWS, a software program that reads the text on the screen for visual impairment. The court ruled that Winn-Dixie violated the law because of the supplementary content offered on the website. Thus the content tied to the store’s physical location, such as coupons for in-store purchase, store location service, and the option to renew the prescription medication online. 

The Blick Art Materials Case

In August 2017, a visually-impaired individual brought a suit against Blick Art Supplies in New York, arguing that the website was not designed according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York opened the door to digital accessibility, saying “a rigid adherence to a physical nexus requirement leaves potholes of discrimination in what would otherwise be a smooth road to integration.

As you can see, the court’s decision in these two cases contradict one another. This opens the floodgates for more ADA website compliance lawsuits. While many of these cases are handled privately behind closed doors, it’s unclear which cases will hold up in court. As a website owner, you might forgo ADA compliance because your website isn’t considered a place of public accommodation. That outcome is far from assured in court.

In conclusion, as a business owner or digital publisher, you need to be mindful of the risks of not having an ADA compliant website. With ADA website compliance lawsuits surging, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to deal with this issue. If you decide not to comply with the ADA, you’re in trouble. New legal precedents are being set all the time. So, be sure to stay tuned for the latest news on ADA website compliance laws.

 

 

Working on a website can be difficult. Adding new media and updating pages is chore, even though you know your company website needs to evolve and become more accessible to the many users you are trying to reach. Maybe when you first built it, accessibility wasn’t even really discussed. But now you’ve taken a step back, looked at your customer base with a desire to include everyone and you’ve realized just how important it is to make your site accessible. However, the thought of building a robust site that can do all the things you want it to do is overwhelming.

What is Web Accessibility

A practice of designing and coding the website in order to provide complete compatibility in accessing it by people with disabilities. In addition, it is a way to improve search engine optimization only an ADA Compliant Web Designer will help you to make your website Compliant. Is your website compatible? By going through the checklist below, you can get the answer.

Assessing Current Web Pages and Content

  • The website must include a feature like a navigation link at the top of the page. These links have a bypass mechanism such as a “skip navigation” link. This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the web page content. It is beneficial for people who use screen readers to avoid to listen to all the links each time they jump to a new page.
  • All the links should be understandable when taken out of the context. For example, images without alternative text and links without worded as “click here”.
  • All the graphics, maps, images, and other non-text content must provide text alternatives through the alt attribute, a hidden/visible long description.
  • All the documents posted on the website should available in HTML or another accessible text-based format. It is also applicable to other formats like Portable Document Format (PDF).
  • The online forms on the website should be structured so assistive technology can identify, describe and operate the controls and inputs. By doing this, people with disabilities can review and submit the forms.
  • If the website has online forms, the drop-down list should describe the information instead of displaying a response option. For instance, “Your Age” instead of “18-25”.
  • If the website has data charts and tables, they should be structured so that all data cells are associated with column and row identifiers.
  • All the video files on the website must have audio descriptions (if necessary). This is for the convenience of blind people or for having a visual impairment disability.
  • All the video files on the website must have synchronized captions. People with hearing problems or deaf can access these files conveniently.
  • All the audio files on the website should have synchronized captions to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • All web pages should be designed so that they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font.

About Website Accessibility Policy and Procedures

  • One must have a written policy on website accessibility.
  • The website accessibility policy must be posted on the website at a location where it can be easily found.
  • The procedure should be developed to ensure that content is not added to the website until it has been made accessible.
  • It should be confirmed that the website manager has checked the code and structure of all new web pages before they are posted.
  • While adding the PDFs to the website, these should be accessible. Also, the text-based versions of the documents should be accessible at the same time as PDF versions.
  • Make sure that the in-house and contractor staff has received the information about the website accessibility policy and procedure to confirm the website accessibility.
  • It should be confirmed that in-house and contractor staff has received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of the website.
  • The website should have a specific written plan if it contains inaccessible content. Also, it should include timeframes in place to make all of the existing web content accessible.
  • A complete plan to improve website accessibility should be posted along with invited suggestions for improvement.
  • The homepage should include easily locatable information that includes contact details like telephone number and email address. This is useful for reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessibility services with information.
  • A website should have procedures in place to assure a quick response to the visitors with disabilities who have difficulty in accessing information or services available on the website.
  • Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility. So make sure to ask disability groups representing people to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Testing the website using a product available on the internet is helpful, These tools are of free cost and check the accessibility of a website. They may not identify all accessibility issues and flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, these are, nonetheless, a helpful way to improve website accessibility.

Checklist of Action Items for Improving the Accessibility of a Website

In addition, while considering the above suggestions, the following checklist initially prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agencies provides further guidelines on ways to make websites more accessible for persons with disabilities.

This practical advice, as well as another checklist, are available at:

Satisfying all of these items does not necessarily mean that a website complies with ADA, but it will improve the website’s accessibility and decrease the risk of litigation. Again, an Expert or Web Accessibility Consulting & Services provider should be engaged to conduct a comprehensive review of your website.
Nothing brings you closer to reality than actually facing it. This is the premise of my latest attempt to spread awareness about Web Accessibility.
For better understand, here is a link in which a practical example is shown to make the websites’ user experience better by following the guidelines. Also, it tells the issues affecting various users on the internet with solutions.
You can make your website ADA compliant in an easy way by consulting the professionals, who can do this job effortlessly. Also, you can get a quick website audit from To Be ADA Compliant that offers complete web accessibility consulting & services in California, USA.

Resource: https://dev.to/chinchang/an-interactive-and-practical-introduction-to-web-accessibility-22o1