Did you know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may apply to your website?
There’s been a surge in ADA lawsuits targeting websites for the markets served by Berkley Asset Protection – jewelry businesses and fine art galleries – as well as clothing and apparel stores, telecommunications companies, colleges, restaurants, hotels, consumer goods and e-commerce stores.
The ADA does not specifically address websites, however, some courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs who sue based on website inaccessibility. And, many states have adopted their own accessibility laws.
According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, websites should be made accessible for individuals with blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these.
Here are a few examples to make your website more accessible:
- Your site content should be coded to permit a visually impaired person to use “screen-reading” software to convert text on a website to audio. Photos, images, videos and other non-text elements must have “alt” tags or text descriptions.
- Interactive functions must be available via keyboard commands for those who can’t use a mouse.
- Make sure your website can be displayed using the color and text settings of each visitor’s browser and operating system. For example, the visitor should be able to resize text up to 200% without losing content or functionality.
- Content should be presented in a text-based format, such as HTML or RTF (Rich Text Format), in addition to PDFs.
- If you use online forms and tables, make those elements accessible by labeling each control (buttons, check boxes, drop-down menus, text fields) with a descriptive HTML tag.
If you sell goods or services through your website or provide information about hours, location, services and opportunities open to the public, ask your web designer to update your site so individuals with disabilities can meaningfully engage with the content on your site.
Web designer resource
While the U.S. Department of Justice has not provided clear guidance about website compliance requirements, web designers can reference requirements for federal websites at https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap5toolkit.htm.
Be proactive! Develop a plan and execute!