As an attorney, it is important to be aware of website accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about both topics, including what they are, how they affect your business, and what steps you can take to ensure your website is compliant. Keep reading to learn more!
What is website accessibility?
Accessibility refers to the ability of a person with a disability to use a product, service, or facility.
Making your website accessible means making it usable by people who are disabled, whether that be someone who is blind, deaf, in a wheelchair, limited manual dexterity, limited literacy skills (i.e., dyslexic), colorblind, etc.
The following are some examples of ways you can make your site more accessible for people with disabilities:
- Captions on videos and photos
- No autoplay for videos
- Alternate text descriptions on photos
- Easy navigation for screen readers
- Text in shapes instead of pictures only (make sure they have alt-text)
- Keyboard navigation for those with limited use of their hands or difficulty using a mouse
- High contrast color scheme (black text on white background), especially for colorblind.
ADA and Section 508 Compliance Legal Summary for Websites and Mobile Apps
It’s become critical that websites and mobile apps comply with Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act (commercial) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (government) – as well as some state laws.
These regulations ensure that everyone, regardless of their physical or mental abilities, has access to traditional and digital public places. The WCAG has been designated as the official ADA standard by the DOJ despite slow progress informally making it so, and provision 508 explicitly makes Section 508 the legal standard for accessibility.
ACCORDING TO THE COURTS, the WCAG has served as the de facto standard in providing digital accessibility in numerous circumstances.
The WCAG was established by and is administered by the W3C, the global governing body for web technology. WCAG 2.1 is the most recent version, and it has three degrees: A, AA, and AAA, with A being the minimum requirement to avoid problems. AAA criteria are intended as best practices that are frequently unattainable.
Website ADA Compliance Guide:
Websites are not always accessible without a specific design to enable Assistive Technology. This means that unless a website’s developer has fulfilled their obligation in building an accessible site.
Then you will have trouble using it with any disability. This can be prevented by either designing from scratch or having another party handle the development process altogether, which results in more control over what parts get implemented onto your page!
What should your client do to make their website ADA compliant and avoid continued legal hassles?
Your client will be presented with two options: maintaining the existing site or starting afresh. The time and money it takes to repair the old location may equal, if not surpass, that of starting from scratch.
Because the front-side code is restricted on some closed/hosted platforms such as Wix or Weebly, certain websites built on these platforms may not be capable of achieving compliance.
Building A New WCAG Compliant Website:
It is always best to start with good quality content and good design when building a website. Once you have created your website, there are certain standards that all websites must meet if they want to be accessible to those who reside in the United States.
Not only does this improve your site’s ranking on search engines like Google or Bing (for example, for the search term “ADA attorney”), but it also ensures that those visiting your site can read and understand what you need them to take action on.
One of the most important things to remember about creating an ADA-compliant website is descriptive titles and headings. Someone using a screen reader will know what each section contains and where they are at any given time, and how much more content they have to read.
For WCAG compliance, redesigning a website begins with training the in-house staff for web accessibility or outsourcing to a competent web developer specializing in 508/ADA compliance. The following are some of the most important stages:
- During the design process, we check for color and contrast usage.
- During the development phase, increments of unit testing are performed.
- A thorough 3-factor audit of the entire website after development is finished and loaded content. To follow are details on what a “3-factor audit” entails.
- Our approach allows you to set up automated tools that perform periodic audits until any substantial changes are made, which would necessitate a full 3-factor audit.
Making an Existing Website WCAG Compliant:
This two-step procedure starts with an assessment to reveal WCAG concerns, followed by repair.
WCAG Website Auditing for ADA & 508 Compliance:
It’s strongly encouraged to start with a 3-factor audit (color contrast, size, and spacing) as it provides the most accessible results for users on desktop or mobile devices. From there, you can do a full audit of all WCAG checkpoints.
Each result is detailed with suggestions on how to make your website compliant.
The WCAG2Guidelines are published by The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the same organization that maintains HTML5 and CSS3 standards.
There are 12 guidelines in total, each with varying degrees of accessibility. They are outlined below:
- Predictable & Controllable: Uses technologies that allow people to control their own experience, including assistive technology like screen readers.
- Understandable: Includes text that’s easy to understand, content hierarchy & labeling.
- Input Assistance: Includes instructions for users with slower or limited response times, keyboard shortcuts, and accessible error messages.
- Robust: Supports mainstream and alternative devices to help accessibility grow with technology.
- Compatible: Builds compatibility into the design by removing barriers due to using incompatible technologies or outdated standards.
- Interoperable: Allows other technologies (such as assistive technology) access to content, control over functionality, and access to metadata about documents.
- Language of Page: From interface text to page structure, text must be present in a logical order for screen readers.
- Time-based Media: Supports people experiencing the effects of flashing images or sounds.
- Proprietary App Interfaces: Include accessibility consideration for app interfaces, including compatibility with mainstream assistive technology.
- Externally Linked Contents: Dynamically loaded content must be fully accessible to avoid losing its place in the current document.
- Inter-page Relationships: Documents using navigation elements must have consistent relationships, including heading structure and link text.
- Language of Parts: Inconsistently labelled Modules will cause problems for screen readers where they might not associate it to a meaningful full label in context. This is particularly important when modules are reused and use different labels.
How Much Will a 3-Factor Audit Cost?
On the low end, a simple marketing website will cost between $7K and $15K. For more sophisticated and eCommerce sites, anticipate expenditure to top $20K or perhaps more.
WCAG Accessibility Website Remediation
Your client’s development team will be well equipped to fix any issues that arise with solid audit results, including remediation guidance.
We recommend executing the existing strategy by default and avoiding mistakes in future projects if possible. However, it can always call on our expertise should they need help to catch up or understand WCAG compliance more clearly than their internal teams do now!
Mobile App ADA Compliance Guide:
The 9th Circuit affirmed in the Robles v. Dominos case that ADA Title III applies to websites and mobile apps, as previously ruled by the 6th Circuit.
Domino’s sought to appeal the decision, but the Supreme Court rejected the request, allowing the 9th Circuit’s decision to stand.
WCAG Mobile App Auditing:
However, auditing a mobile app is a unique situation. There are several automated testing tools for Android and IOS, and however, most are still immature and unreliable. We conduct manual testing and provide analysis that identifies problems and suggested solutions.
WCAG Mobile App Remediation:
In the meantime, without website recommendations, the current mobile app development team should undertake the cleanup. A thorough audit with comprehensive remedy instructions can help you avoid a lot of time and money in both cases.
Regardless of whether your client’s mobile app or website has generated the lawsuit, you should advise against shortcuts. This is a new expense of doing business, and biting the bullet early will assist them in resolving the current problem without creating any more legal difficulties.
This article is a comprehensive guide on website accessibility and ADA compliance. We hope this post will serve as an introduction for business owners who are just beginning their journey to understand how the law impacts them and provide basic tips that you can use right away!
But if you need more information or want help getting your site compliant with these laws, please reach out to us. Our team of experts would love the opportunity to work with you to make our websites accessible to everyone and stay within legal limits at the same time.