Understanding Web Accessibility: Notable Court Cases and How They Affect Your Small Business Website


Are you looking to ensure your website is accessible to all users, regardless of disability or disability status? If so, it’s important to familiarize yourself with legal cases that have furthered the cause of web accessibility. Understanding the impact of such cases can help you better understand the level of compliance that is expected of your small business website.

Web accessibility has become an increasingly important issue for businesses of all sizes. Even though there have been no clear guidelines for creating accessible websites, the courts have played a crucial role in determining the standards for online accessibility. Several famous legal cases have already been heard, with some resulting in hefty fines for companies that failed to comply with web accessibility regulations.

One of the most well-known court cases is National Federation of the Blind (NFB) v. Target Corp. In this 2006 case, the plaintiff argued that Target.com was not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The court reached a favorable decision for the plaintiff, ordering Target to make the website more accessible for visually impaired users. As a result of this ruling, Target was required to make changes to its website, such as adding alt-text to images and improving the accessibility of online forms.

The case of National Federation of the Blind v. Chase Bank USA is another example of a ruling that has had a huge impact on web accessibility. In this case, the court found that Chase Bank’s website was not in compliance with the ADA, thereby creating an undue burden for visually impaired users. As a result, Chase Bank was required to make changes to its website, such as adding alt-text to all images, improving color contrast, and making sure the website worked with assistive technologies.

These court cases have helped shape the landscape of web accessibility, and they demonstrate that companies of all sizes must ensure their websites are in compliance with ADA standards. It’s important to note that the level of compliance that is expected will vary from one website to another, depending on the complexity of the website and the services it provides. For example, a website with a simple contact form is likely to require considerably less effort to make it accessible than a website offering complicated online banking services.

For small business owners, the best way to ensure your website meets accessibility standards is to work with an experienced web developer. Web developers should be familiar with the latest standards for web accessibility and be able to advise you on what needs to be done to make sure your site is accessible to all users.

Understanding the importance of web accessibility and familiarizing yourself with the legal cases that have shaped the regulations can help you ensure your small business website is in compliance with ADA standards. Doing so can help you avoid costly legal battles that could otherwise result in hefty fines.

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