What Does it Mean to be ADA Compliant?
If you’re a business owner, hopefully you’re aware of the rules stated in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These rules require businesses to make their services and physical locations accessible to those with disabilities.
Back in 1990, when the ADA was first enacted, its main intent was to ensure businesses provide accommodations to those who are disabled, building ramp alternatives to stairs, including braille alternatives to text on signs, etc. But did you know that your website might also need to provide accommodations which meet these requirements?
Cyber Accessibility Lawsuits are on the Rise…
Courts are extending the ADA's reach to include websites or apps that offer goods or services to the public. This means website administrators need to be aware of the growing legal risks involved with doing business online through a website which is not accessible.
A recent wave of lawsuits being made under the ADA are targeting websites or mobile apps that discriminate against people with disabilities by failing to provide special accommodations. If your business is slammed with an ADA lawsuit and loses, you’ll likely be ordered to pay some steep fines.
What Constitutes a Cyber Accessibility Violation?
There are many considerations to take into account when you begin to make your website compliant with the ADA. This list is always growing and evolving, so we cannot realistically state every rule within this article, but to give you an idea of the kind of actions which may be required,we have listed below some potential violations:
- Image Content:
Those who are vision impaired are unable to view image content. Any image content needs to have a textual description accompanying it so that screen readers can process this content and translate it to braille, voice, or even adjust it to a larger font size.
- PDF Content:
Screen readers are unable to access PDF content. An alternative version needs to be made available on the website using HTML or Rich Text Format (RTF).
- Design Considerations:
In order to ensure that the vision impaired can distinguish text colors from background colors, you must include the option to your visitors to adjust the font size and color as they see fit.
- Video Content:
Videos must include audio and accompanying text content to ensure that both the hearing and vision impaired can access video content.
Who is at Risk?
While some businesses are more susceptible to these lawsuits than others, specifically retailers, banks, hospitals, universities, restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, museums, libraries, parks, and all other places of public accommodation are as a rule, at high risk. Even if your website is not intended to accommodate the public, you may still have responsibilities as an employer to ensure disabled employees and applicants have ready access to your web content.
Safeguard While You Plan for Accessibility:
This area of law is rapidly progressing, and the criteria for compliance can be quite involved. We suggest seeking guidance to uncover any immediate needs and layout a plan for compliance. Since compliance is a process, you’ll need to protect yourself until ADA compliance is attained. Including a page on your website which outlines your future intent for making the website accessible can provide a safeguard while the needed adjustments are implemented.
Is cyber accessibility important to your users? Learn how SiteViz makes compliance a snap!
For further reading, check out the following articles:
- Can Your Company's Website Lead to a Lawsuit?
- American Disabilities Act (ADA) Lawsuits Rising Against Website Accessibility
- Lawsuits Rise: Blind Plaintiffs Sue Additional Retailers for Website Accessibility/ADA Claims
- Disability Lawsuits Against Small Businesses Soar
- Lawsuits & Settlement Agreements