ACCESSIBILITY COMPLIANCE FOR YOUR WEBSITE
A website has to be accessible. It must have clear and bright visuals that can be easily picked up by software that translates content for people with vision or hearing problems. Its videos should include subtitles for the hard of hearing. Its keyboard navigation options must be easy enough even for those who can’t use a mouse. How often business consider the above if it doesn’t have an immediate effect on their business? Not often enough, current developments show.
That is changing and in the most business-unfriendly way – through courts of law.
Since 2018, more than 10,000 lawsuits were filed in US federal courts alleging businesses were in violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the California equivalent, the California Unruh Act. These so-called “surf-by” lawsuits are even more frustrating than the typical ADA lawsuit that alleges physical barriers at a retail location, as they are more frequently being brought by individuals who have never even visited your commercial establishment, but instead simply visited your uncompliant website.
Their argument is based on the assumption that your website is a “public accommodation” and thus should be ADA compliant. Yet ADA, passed in 1990 has no provisions on the website compliance. That’s where WCAG comes into play.
A lot of countries are adopting similar measures in local laws and you need to be ready to comply or be ready for massive fines.
Why is WCAG important to your business?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. WCAG 2.0 is approved as an ISO standard: ISO/IEC 40500:2012.
California courts are increasingly relying on the WCAG 2.0 AA standards, a set of international standards outlining methods to make websites more accessible for individuals with disabilities. The Californian court ordered the restaurant to bring its website into compliance with the WCAG 2.0, Level AA success criteria and to pay $4,000 in statutory damages. The case is currently on appeal, but it appears likely that it will be affirmed, likely paving the way for more businesses to be sued under California law for non-compliance.
Why you should care
You might wonder, how does that apply to my business and my website, if I don’t operate from the US and their laws don’t apply to me? The answer is twofold.
Firstly, it is the right thing to do. You should consider and adapt your website for everyone in your audience to have equal access to it, no question about it.
Secondly, because ADA and can be applied in the same way GDPR applies to companies outside of the European Union – if it is accessible in California or the US, it needs to be compliant. Another aspect is the fact that a lot of countries are adopting similar measure in local laws and you need to be ready to comply or be ready for massive fines.
If any of the above has got you worried that your site is not accessible enough and thus uncompliant, you can always arrange a consultation with the specialists from Tentacle Solutions. With almost twenty years on the market, their team knows how to come up with a compliant solution for your business.