ADA website accessibility litigation is on the rise, and your business could be next. Stay ahead of changing guidelines and make sure your website is ADA compliant.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to prevent discrimination based on disability. The act covers a multitude of sectors, from the government to private businesses, and includes regulations such as accessibility to buildings, parking spots, and more recently, websites. ADA website litigation has increased over the past year as businesses are being held accountable for ADA website compliance and the introduction of new web-related guidelines in 2018.
Many companies are unfamiliar with the latest guidelines and how to enforce ADA website compliance. To help you navigate the ever-changing requirements, we’ve compiled a brief guide on how to update your website and manage ADA compliance in 2020.
In 2008, the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) introduced the first round of guidelines for ADA website compliance. These Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 helped businesses understand what aspects of their websites may prohibit access for people with disabilities. For the most part, these guidelines went unnoticed by businesses everywhere.
Following a wave of litigation related to website compliance in 2018, the consortium released its second iteration of the guidelines—WCAG 2.1—ultimately enhancing best practices for a new era of web users and creators.
In the most recent U.S. census, 12.7% of the population acknowledged having some type of disability, further confirming the need for website accessibility.
WCAG 2.1 discusses guidelines for everything from providing textual context for audio or video included in your site, to prohibiting anything that “flashes more than three times in a one-second period” (unless it is below a threshold that could cause a seizure of physical reaction). Other requirements include simplifying formatting and links to make your website accessible for those using screen readers and other assistive technology.
This past year saw a rapid increase in ADA website compliance lawsuits, not least of which was the lawsuit against Beyonce Knowle’s company, Parkwood Entertainment for not being accessible to sight-impaired visitors. Lawsuits filed against Nike, Amazon, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal also made the list of companies impacted by changing guidelines. Avoiding litigation and staying ahead of regulations requires a combination of tools and resources.
Understand the Requirements of WCAG 2.1
Knowing the guidelines, and how to implement them, is the first step to bringing your website up to date. When access to knowledgeable web developers or IT professionals is limited, working with local consultants will help you gain deeper insight into your compliance needs.
Run Compliance Checks
W3C offers a variety of resources to help you evaluate your web accessibility. These tools help you determine where your website doesn’t comply so that you can more easily determine the best fix. In the case of litigation, however, many attorneys will send letters demanding that your company pass the WAVE accessibility check or a lawsuit will be filed. To avoid a letter to begin with, use the WAVE tool as your primary method of checking for accessibility errors.
Test for Usability
Once changes have been made to your website, and throughout your re-design process, invite users with various disabilities to test your site. These users will locate gaps in accessibility far more easily and effectively than even the online accessibility checkers.
ADA website compliance is a growing challenge for businesses everywhere. For the most complete accessibility assessment and ongoing compliance support, schedule a complimentary BlueHat Cyber consultation. Our security professionals have the most up-to-date expertise on national and international regulations and ADA website compliance.