A few months ago we got a call from a client who claimed that she was threatened with a lawsuit from a user claiming her website was not ADA compliant. The claim stated that portions of her website were not accessible to disabled users. We had heard about people threatening to sue website owners in the past but this time it actually happened. This piqued our interest. After a little digging around we discovered there are laws going into effect this year to further enforce these guidelines. A little more about ADA website compliance.
We don’t see these laws as a negative or an “us against them” thing. We want to provide people with disabilities an excellent online experience. The important thing is that we update your website so that everyone can enjoy it.
What is ADA website compliance?
ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA became law in 1990. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations. Title III of the ADA states that all places of “public accommodation” are legally required to remove any “access barriers” that would hinder a disabled person’s access to that business’s goods or services.
Who needs to be ADA compliant?
Starting in January 2018, there are some new ADA website compliance regulations that will take effect. All electronic information and communication technology used or maintained by the federal government and their suppliers must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Also, Any business considered a “public accommodation” needs to have an ADA compliant website. This can be interpreted in slightly different ways but basically, it includes any business intended to be used, accessed and/or understood by the general public.
What should I do?
Chances are, your website is not far from meeting the section 508 guidelines but there are a few changes that may take a little more effort. These are just a few examples:
Foreground and background color combinations must provide sufficient contrast. This could have a big impact on the overall design of your website.
You must provide the user with the option to turn off pop-ups, new windows, and redirects and you must not change the current window without informing the user. This could have a major impact on the way your website currently functions.
Make your website fully accessible using a keyboard rather than a mouse. This could take a little work.
Can I get an idea of how my website currently scores?
There are some online automated tools that will identify some the simple issues. Unless you have a very basic website, manual testing is probably still going to be needed if you want to be sure you are meeting requirements.
The Department of Justice has made it clear that these legal requirements are on the horizon. Optimizing websites for accessibility and ADA compliance will serve to create better content that is usable by more people, which makes the internet a better place for all. More Info.
Some accessibility guidelines require extra technical work, but overall the guidelines align with web design best practices: make your content available in different forms for different devices and audiences, make your website logical and easy to use, and make your website technically sound.
If you would like us to evaluate your website please contact us. Bitmap Web Design can help you update your website.