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ADA & Website Accessibility

We help organizations navigate their path to online accessibility, giving more people access to their products and services. You may be asking yourself, since when do websites need to be ADA compliant? The fact is, the ADA was passed before the Internet.

The Department of Justice has stated that websites offering goods or services to consumers are places of public accommodation and must be accessible to the disabled. They have not however, provided any actual rules for website accessibility. This has left Accessibility of websites in the hands of lawyers and the courts.

What is the Law?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) was signed into law in 1990 and prohibits discrimination “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” offered by businesses.

The ADA was passed before the Internet as we now know it existed. However, U.S. Department Justice (“DOJ”) has taken the position that the ADA applies to websites, and that to avoid illegal discrimination a website must be designed to be accessible through and compatible with electronic screen reader technology commonly used by blind and visually impaired persons.

What Does "Accessible" Mean?

The DOJ and many well-known advocacy organizations take the position that to be accessible a website must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). Formal regulations from the DOJ are expected in 2018. (see Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), however the absence of formal regulations has not stopped the DOJ or plaintiff law firms from initiating litigation, and multiple courts have found that the ADA applies to websites even without formal regulations.

ADA & WCAG

Lacking clear standards or compliance regulations, the Dept of Justice and others refer to the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2. 0 (WCAG). The guidelines come in three degrees (A, AA, AAA).

The standards break down to 4 basic principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust. Refer to the WCAG 2.0 for all details.

There are three different levels of compliance: Level A, Level AA and Level AAA.

Understanding Accessibility Standards

  • Provide text alternatives for non-text content (ie: photos)
  • Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content
  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard
  • Do not use content that causes seizures
  • Help users navigate and find content
  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools

Ensure that you have done all you can to abide by the laws and regulations.

Get a free consultation today so you know where you stand.


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