Here’s What You Should Know

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established with the goal of ending discrimination based on a person’s disability. As organizations have expanded over the last three decades, so has their online presence, providing for greater content access across digital platforms.

However, digital content hasn’t been easily accessible for everyone and progress toward adopting formal standards for website accessibility has been slow.

At the moment, we only have directional clues as to what the Department of Justice might define as reaching ADA website compliance. While past court cases help set some precedence, the DOJ has not fully adopted any specific regulations concerning website accessibility.

Recently, the lack of clarity has led to organizations all over the United States being served with hefty lawsuits. When this occurs, it is up to the court to determine whether or not that organization’s website meets ADA compliance standards. With new standards being presented each year, annual website maintenance is highly recommended.

What Does ADA Website Compliance Mean Today?

The World Wide Web Consortiums’ (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are not an official minimum standard for accessibility guidelines, but the information within has been used by the courts as a benchmark.

Accessibility issues are categorized in four distinct groups under WCAG guidelines. Conveniently, they can be summed up with the acronym P.O.U.R.

  1. Perceivable Issues are those that affect a user’s ability to find and process information on a website. An example of this would be providing audio descriptions for video content.
  2. Operable Issues impact a visitor’s ability to navigate and use a website. Ensuring that all site functions and navigation can be operated via keyboard-only commands is one feature your website should contain.
  3. Understandable Issues concern a user’s ability to discern and comprehend all information and navigation on a website.
  4. Robust Issues involves a website’s ability to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of users with disabilities. For instance, testing compatibility with all leading screen readers and ensuring that those capabilities can be upgraded in the future.

Due to past court cases and what the W3C standards are for, the WCAG standards serve as a reliable guideline for ADA website compliance.

Now is the Time to Update Your Website

In 2018, the United States saw a nearly 200% increase in the number of lawsuits targeting websites and mobile apps for their alleged failure to reach ADA website compliance. Even industry leaders like The Hershey Company, Domino’s Pizza and Pandora have felt the legal heat as attorneys have alleged their websites don’t comply with the ADA.

What does this mean for businesses who want to ensure their website is ADA compliant while avoiding potential litigation? The answer: review your website to ensure it meets generally agreed upon website accessibility standards, in particular the WCAG.

For a quick test, you can use a ADA website compliance checker such as the WAVE Accessibility Tool or the browser extension by SiteImprove. Ultimately, you’ll want to have a manual review of your site. There are items that online checkers just can’t assess including color contrast ratio, accessible keyboard navigation and simple headlines and spacing.

For those that want the assurance of a manual review, Gavin’s digital team offers ADA website audits. Audit services are a customized solution based on variables, including the size of the website and the level of compliance sought.

Contact us today to setup a free 30-minute consultation or to discuss how Gavin can help your organization reach ADA website compliance.