Some businesses and organizations are facing lawsuits related to non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Websites are covered by the ADA but WCAG compliance guidelines are confusing for many.
In fact, a 2019 WebAIM Million study of large and small businesses found that 98% of their web pages violated disability rights.
What is WCAG?
WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines which provides general guidelines to make a website accessible to individuals with disabilities. While WCAG is not a law, it was created under the ADA which the U.S. Department of Justice determined applies to websites.
There are three (3) levels of WCAG compliance - A, AA, and AAA. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. AA level is often recommended as it meets the “reasonable access” standard and is most sustainable.
Who must comply with WCAG?
As a digital marketing agency, we’re not qualified to provide legal advice nor interpret DOJ recommendations or any ADA laws applicable to businesses and organizations, but according to Userway, a leading ADA compliance service for websites, the following businesses and organizations must be in ADA compliance:
Businesses that employ over fifteen staff members and operate more than twenty weeks a year,
Charities and NGOs
Local and state agencies and government bodies
Why businesses and organizations are concerned about compliance
There has been a significant increase in website accessibility lawsuits in recent years where plaintiffs claim they can’t access websites because they are incompatible with assistive technologies. In such cases, plaintiffs usually cite ADA Title III violations. Title III violations apply to public accommodation and commercial entities. Title II applies to state and local government entities.
The U.S. Department of Justice has interpreted Title III of the ADA to include websites as places of public accommodation, while Title I requires employers with 15 or more employees to comply. A website that is fully accessible is not at risk of receiving a demand letter claiming ADA violations.
How can you avoid legal risk?
Our team at Flair helps mitigate risk because many of the compliance standards are the same as the features we integrate for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), User Experience (UX) and Design Best Practices. These include, but are not limited to: Alt Text (describing what is in an image or video), use of high contrast colors, minimum size fonts and proper text spacing.
To ensure accessibility, we’ve integrated the Userway widget into our own website and that of many clients. Userway states its paid plan widget integration complies with WCAG Level AA, AA and AAA guidelines.
Beware of random online information and companies that claim to sell expensive compliance services. At the bottom of this article, we provide direct links to the U.S. Department of Justice and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reference resources.
Accessibility Can Boost Your Business
There are more than One Billion people with disabilities. Helping them navigate the content of your website is not only compassionate, it helps improve the customer experience, access and loyalty to your business or organization.
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Please note this information is provided as a courtesy and is not intended to provide legal counsel nor business legal advice. Flair Communication recommends consulting a licensed attorney for legal advice.