The Americans With Disabilities Act requires varying organizations to operate with functionality that services special-needs individuals such as the deaf and blind.
Signed into law in 1990, the legislature specifically provided guidelines that entail easy access to businesses, houses of worship, and education and government institutions.
Unfortunately, no one at the time imagined how important the internet would become to daily life.
There’s been a disturbing uptick in lawsuits filed against companies with non-ADA compliant websites. Settlements and suits have put a financial burden on businesses.
The original concept behind the ADA was to give the disabled and handicapped access to public spaces. No one could anticipate how one day we’d depend on websites for almost everything! Now there are legal claims the blind cannot see content and the hearing impaired arguing they cannot hear content.
Lawsuit after lawsuit argues a website – a public space — is an extension of the company and is subject to ADA requirements.
About ADA Compliant Website
If you want to avoid fines and lawsuits that come with non-compliance, your web content needs to provide accessibility to deaf and blind users, offering assistive tech for navigation via voice and screen readers.
Your website should be ADA secure if it has 15 full-time employees or operates no less than 20 weeks, as stated in Title I of the ADA.
Unfortunately, despite these understandings, there are no clear guidelines for how any company can be compliant. It’s only understood that the website has to provide “reasonable accessibility” to everyone.
What are the Irregularities of America’s Legal Landscape Pertaining to the ADA and Websites?
Lawsuit claims overwhelmingly reference ADA Title III. And the only conflict shines in dizzying court decisions. One court ruled in favor of Domino’s Pizza after a blind man said he cannot use the store’s mobile app or website. Yet another court stands in favor of Winn-Dixie, saying inaccessibility on the website is not immediately an ADA violation.
The fact is the Disabilities Act was not directly designed for matters involving the internet. And without exacting guidelines, companies aren’t necessarily bound by law to implement what would be expensive, unclear revisions to their websites.
Website Accessibility Laws for Different Industries
As the requirements for website compliance are ambiguous at best and would be under federal jurisdiction anyway, there are no hard and set rules based on accessibility for different industries.
What Does It Take to Make Your Website Accessible and ADA-compliant?
The following are some of the general guidelines used to make your website compliant.
- Websites ought to have keyboard navigation.
- Online applications need descriptive HTML tags.
- Videos should have transcripts, audio descriptions and subtitles.
- Utilize “skip navigation” links on all web pages.
- Make all fonts accessible.
According to the experts at AudioEye, “businesses often don’t learn about ADA web compliance until they’re served a lawsuit or legal demand letter.” Any business with an online presence needs to investigate ADA compliance to avoid the legal headaches many unsuspecting companies have found themselves subject to.