In 2018, there were at least 2,258 website accessibility lawsuits federal courts all over the United States under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that claimed people with disabilities could not properly use some certain websites because of unresponsiveness to assistive technologies. This was a huge increase of about 177 percent from 814 of such lawsuits in 2017.
It’s an issue that merits serious discussion, and there have been several debates around the technological capabilities of persons-with-disabilities (PIDs). Find out everything you need to know about ADA and ADA website standards with our complete guide. Continue reading for more info.
Below are 10 things you should know about ADA website standards.
1. What’s the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that seeks to right a wrong by protecting people with disabilities from environmental discrimination. The Act – which became law in 1990 – was created to put in place measures that ensure that people with disabilities (PIDs) have the same opportunities as everyone else. The goal is to provide an equal experience for everyone, notwithstanding physical disabilities and to put an end to discrimination based on physical abilities.
When passed into law, the U.S Congress sought to ensure that individuals, businesses, and public service providers took crucial steps to ensure the participation of PIDs in everything necessary. This act is the reason physical structures now provide accommodations like disabled parking spaces and wheelchair ramps in hospitals and other public places.
2. Why Learn About ADA Website Accessibility Standards?
According to statistics by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 60 million adults (26 percent) living with a disability in the United States. This means every one in four adults in the United States has some form of disability. This is obviously a significant portion of the United States’ population; hence, the need for society to be all-inclusive.
The ADA, in 2016, began to include websites accessibility in the bid to give equal opportunities for everyone who logs in to a website. Statistics recently published show that the United States – as one of the largest online markets worldwide – has close to 312 million internet users in 2019. This is a drastic increase, compared to nearly 287 million in 2017. This shows that the internet has continuously become today’s digital world, where personal, social and economic activities take place all the time.
Though the ADA took effect in the 1990s, when the internet wasn’t the way it is now, companies are being sued constantly for not complying with the ADA on website accessibility. Many people with disabilities use assistive devices, such as text-to-audio readers and scanners, to understand information on a website. The ADA website standards cover persons with disabilities just like there is protection for people based on sex, race, color, age, national origin, and religion.
3. ADA Compliance For Websites Defined
ADA website compliance means making your website accessible to everyone, most especially people with disabilities, like poor eyesight, that require screen readers to access information. A lot of businesses do not consider ADA compliance website standards until they are sued for persons with disabilities. Companies and individuals from Netflix to Beyonce have once been sued over non-compliance with ADA website standards.
4. Why is ADA Compliance Important for Websites?
Based on the amount of website accessibility lawsuits earlier stated, you may be wondering why there’s so much fuss about ADA compliance website standards. Here is why. Organizations, ranging from government and nonprofits institutions to private businesses, are subject to the ADA website standards compliance and such institutions receive government notice when they do not comply with the standards. Institutions are met with severe consequences like fees, fines, or lawsuits.
This is because ADA seeks to provide all-inclusive participation by physically disabled persons. Therefore, ADA says that public places are responsible for removing any barriers that could hinder or affect the disabled person’s ability to engage with services, places or products.
For instance, in 2019, Guillermo Robles, a blind man sued Domino’s pizza because he could not order a customized pizza off their website because the website’s design lacked sufficient technology to allow his assistive technology of screen-reading software to work. This shows how important ADA compliance website standards are.
5. The Five Titles of ADA
ADA is well-detailed to accommodate the needs of over 60 million Americans with disabilities. The ADA is designed to impact schools, employers, businesses and generally transportation providers. The five titles of the Act, which are enforced and implemented by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), are to ensure that PIDs don’t suffer discrimination.
The five titles that make the Act clearly state that PIDs who have been discriminated against because of their disability can file complaints under the subject of discrimination to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
6. What are the ADA requirements?
The major ADA requirement is that it is illegal for any business or government institution to provide products or services that are not accessible to people with disabilities. It ensures that the functionality of such products or services should be made available and accessible to the general public.
Title III of the Act establishes that there must be public accommodation for any services or products served to the public by any entity. It says that products and services for the public must be available in digital format. According to the DOJ, ADA applies to all public accommodation websites.
7. The ADA National Network
Notwithstanding the ADA regulations, it is important to understand how they work and apply to you. There are many resources to help businesses and organizations better understand the law. One such resource is the ADA National Network.
The ADA National Network consists of 10 regional centers alongside an ADA Knowledge Translation Center (ADAKTC). The Network also offers a plethora of ADA services that will help individuals or institutions know how ADA applies to them. The network provides key information on the five titles of the ADA, as well as fact sheets on various ADA topics. There’s more to learn about the ADA National Network here.
8. There Are 61 Guidelines (Called WCAG 2.0) That Need To Be Followed
This may sound overwhelming, but there are 61 different elements for ADA compliance. Fortunately, some websites meet these standards without even realizing it. Many of the requirements are text, alternate text, descriptive language, and the ability to use a screen reader with the website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) already requires that websites make proper use of the above. Online bots can crawl your website to know if your website is compliant or not.
9. The Top ADA Website Compliance Tips
Top ADA website compliance tips include the use of proper headings and titles, good use of text, size, color and fonts to ensure proper identification of information. Also, when using visuals like images and videos, the website should include alternative text Websites should also be easily navigated with only keyboards.
Other tips include website readability with screen readers, dd closed captions for videos, an accessible website with a well-organized HTML coding and tags.
10. What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAGs) were developed with the goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility which meets the needs of institutions and individuals around the world. The WCAGs operate on four principles which state that web accessibility must be: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (content-wise).
The four principles, also collectively referred to as “POUR”, are what guide website accessibility.
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is very important for any organization today. However, the first most important step of compliance is to properly understand the Act. Without a clear understanding of the Act, there cannot be proper compliance. Consequently, without proper compliance with the ADA website standards, your organization may face severe consequences that may result in business-shattering lawsuits.
To prevent this from occurring, RSI security is well-poised to help analyze your website’s accessibility to determine if it meets ADA website compliance guidelines.
As a trusted ADA website compliance consultant, RSI Security will help immediately to implement solutions that provide accessibility accommodations for your website at the browser level that meets ADA website compliance standards.
Contact RSI security today to benefit from our amazing ADA website compliance advisory services.