When the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the World Wide Web was still one year away from development.
It was a measure passed with bipartisan support (back when such a thing was still possible) to address inequities in the non-virtual world: A blind Harvard law student who couldn’t get a job interview with a single firm; Vietnam veterans with missing limbs who couldn’t access buses or trains to commute to work.
We’ve come a long way since then – and now that ADA has provided easier access to office buildings, stores, hospitals, theaters, and sports arenas, it is now being utilized to also provide equal access to websites.
Many ADA compliance suits have been filed against corporate and government websites since federal district courts in Florida and New York ruled in 2017 that sites failing to meet web-content accessibility guidelines may violate Title III of the ADA. At first these actions were initiated only by the government – but now anyone with a site can also be named in a civil lawsuit. That means anyone with a disability who can’t access every aspect of your website can take you to court.
And if you’re a school district or municipality in California, you’ll also have to be in compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA, a higher threshold of accessibility.
It’s Not Easy
We get that. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
In 2018 there were more than 2,200 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts across the nation, a 181% increase over the previous year, according to website accessibility company UsableNet. And that trend is likely to continue, because the law is the law, and there are still a lot of websites that haven’t gotten the memo.
As one business owner lamented, "You can’t fight this. There’s nothing you can do, just write them a check."
At a time when businesses are already struggling to survive amidst the pandemic, and schools and municipalities are strapped with additional strains on their time and budgets for the same reason, it might be easy to put ADA concerns on the back burner until America gets back to something resembling normal. But that won’t stop the lawsuits from coming.
We Can Help
We know how to meet ADA requirements, for private businesses and public sector entities, in California and elsewhere. Sooner or later, if your site is not in compliance someone is going to notice – and it might be something with a lawyer. Don’t wait until that happens.
If you need some help getting started, or making sense of all the requirements of ADA and how to satisfy them, start with our white paper. Yes, it’s free, and you can download it right now.
The white paper focuses on the strategy of ADA compliance, usability and related laws, and how they apply to design and user experience. It is not intended as a legal document, but as a design strategy and primer to help you understand the issues and possibilities inherent in implementing a compliant site.
There are two versions, one for the private sector and one for the public sector. Click on the appropriate link below.
And if you believe your site may need to be reassessed for compliance, contact us about our ADA Review and Repair Program.