Can Your Website Get You in Legal Trouble? Maybe – If It’s Not ADA-Compliant

If you have more than 15 employees and your website isn’t ADA-compliant, you need to act now for two reasons:

  1. It’s the right thing to do
  2. Increasingly, organizations are getting sued for not complying with the law

What’s “ADA,” and do you need to take steps to be compliant?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, prohibits discrimination based on disability in all areas of public life – and as of January 2018, those areas include the Internet.

Regardless of its size or the age of its building, nearly any organization that serves the public needs to be compliant. While we recommend that you check with an attorney, answering these questions can further help you make a determination:

  1. Do you run an organization that provides goods and services to the public?
  2. Are you engaged in an industry affecting commerce?
  3. Do you employ 15 or more full-time employees?
  4. Do you do both B and C for at least 20 calendar weeks per year?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, you’ll probably need to be compliant. (But, again, check with an attorney.)

What if my organization isn’t compliant?

Increasingly, organizations are getting sued for having websites deemed inaccessible for people with disabilities. According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of lawsuits will likely climb to 10,000 by the end of the year (with more lawsuits being filed in California than any other state, perhaps due to its minimum of $4,000 for damages plus attorney fees). The Times interviewed a Palm Springs hotel manager who’s looking at $25,000 in damages – and that doesn’t include lawyer fees.

Also, improving the accessibility of your site makes your site easier for people with disabilities (such as forms of visual impairment including color blindness, and inability to use their hands). It’s not just good policy to make your site more accessible – it’s good human values.

What steps should I take to make my site compliant?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has compiled a complex list of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines right here. According to this list, your site must be:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

Your site probably meets a lot of these standards already. There are, however, a few requirements that will be harder to meet for more complex websites.

  • All functionality must be available from a keyboard only.
  • Your text, background and images must reach various contrast ratios.
  • Users must be able to resize pages up to 200 percent without a loss of content.

To test your site for ADA compliance yourself, we recommend the following programs:

You’ll also want to perform manual testing with keyboard-only navigation and screen reader software.

We can help you with ADA remediation by providing an ADA assessment of your website, and implementation of measures to help make your site more accessible. If you’d like more information, contact us today.

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