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Website Accessibility Compliance

Written by: Grace Anderson Posted: 2/5/2018
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Let me make it clear, I am not an attorney nor should this article be considered legal counsel.

ADA is not a new topic for the storage industry; years ago I was on a team that ensured our facilities were ADA compliant and made accommodations for handicapped tenants on the physical site. Changes such as purchasing ramps and pull strings in addition to identifying accessible units were implemented to accommodate the ADA regulation. Today, I am on the team that is assessing and accommodating for current ADA website accessibility issues encompassing ADA Title III / Section 508.

According to New Possibilities Group, LLC., ADA was passed in 1990, long before the Internet was broadly used by individuals and despite e-commerce trends evolving, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that they will not discuss web accessibility regulations until 2018. However, do not think “no regulations = not my problem”. The chart above clearly demonstrates that lawsuits over ADA e-commerce compliance have increased steadily since 2013. Because there are no JOD regulations, the outcome of these lawsuits is dependent on state judges and, therefore, inconsistent in nature.

The question is "Am I at risk?"

To help answer this question, you can turn to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 which provides an outline of how to make your website accessible for users with disabilities. Knowing these guidelines and how you rank against them can help identify and or mitigate risk. For an assessment on how your website compares to these guidelines, use the tips below. If you have further questions, please consult your attorney and/or website developer(s) for guidance.

1. REVIEW your website to assess your risk levels:

  • If your website acts as a brochure in which it simply displays information to the viewer, you have a low risk of a lawsuit.
  • If your website has any type of interactive components to the site, i.e. fields to fill out, animations or searchable maps, then you have a higher risk of a lawsuit.

2. UNDERSTAND the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. This article can be a starting point but research further to understand previous lawsuits and the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines. Below are additional resources to help you understand these guidelines.

3. TEST your site and discuss the findings with your legal and website development teams

  • You can test your website using a screen reader to make sure all actions are understandable. Various free screen readers are available online to download.

Although complete compliance is almost impossible to achieve, these steps will help identify high risk areas and help you to reduce risk and provide an accessible website for all users.

References: 

Launey, Kristina M, et al. “ADA Title III.” Seyfarth Shaw, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 1 Feb. 2018, www.adatitleiii.com/.

“ADA Compliance for Websites, part 2.” ADA Compliance for Websites, part 2, YouTube, 2 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eL8C8djmo0.

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