Websites need to be accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. Companies who fail to make their websites ADA compliant risk being sued and slapped with large lawsuits. Most companies, however, are unaware that all digital properties, including websites, software etc need to adhere to the ADA compliance regulations.
ADA compliance can be complicated, however we will do our best to explain what you need to know about web ADA compliance. If you’re an IT manager, you can refer to this technical ADA compliance guide as well.
What is ADA Compliance?
What does it mean for your website to be compliant with the ADA regulations? In September 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards in which the law stated that all information and electronic technologies must be available to people with disabilities. This includes all computer software, hardware, and documentations.
The ADA regulates all businesses so that the individuals with disabilities can have a better experiences with it comes to utilizing websites. The ADA states, “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation”.
This law has a direct effect on all Americans with disabilities, including their family and friends. It also affects private employers, all local and state government related agencies, and businesses that are currently operating to benefit the public.
How can a Company Comply with the ADA?
The number of ADA lawsuits is rising sharply as more and more websites fail to follow the rules and regulations of ADA compliance. Business owners and companies should review and use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 level AA guidelines to help them ensure that their website is ADA compliant.
In order for a website to be accessible to people with disabilities, the content must be coded so that screen reading software can screen-read the text and convert the words to an audio translation. Visual aspects must include subtitles and/or descriptions for the deaf. There must also be interactive functions that are operable with keyboard commands for people who are unable to use a mouse.
The cost of having websites that are accessible ranges from several thousand dollars to millions. If your company has a website, considering its accessibility issues is essential to avoid lawsuits and from being sued. No company or organization is immune to the ADA regulations. Below are some companies that failed to be ADA compliant and therefore were sued over ADA website compliance:
1. CVS Pharmacy, Inc
Reed v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc (2017)
In U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, CVS Pharmacy was under fire for their failure to comply with the ADA guidelines. A blind individual, Kyla Reed, brought the case to court after claiming that blind individuals do not have equal access to CVS Pharmacy’s website. This case was dismissed by the court, however, CVS faced similar litigations in 2009.
CVS operates one of the largest retail pharmacy chain and has stores all across the United States. The retailer strives to make their stores and websites accessible to all customers, including ones with disabilities.
2. HCA Holdings, Inc
Frazier v. HCA Holdings, Inc. (2017)
HCA Holdings is a healthcare services provider that owns over 100 hospitals. The plaintiff in this case, Liza Frazier, is legally blind and uses screen reader softwares to access the web. The plaintiff and her legal representatives argue that the websites of the hospitals under HCA Holdings, Inc have accessibility issues, such as a lack of text alternatives and inability to navigate websites using only a keyboard.
National Association of the Deaf v. Hulu (2016)
Hulu LLC, is an American subscription video-on-demand service that provides movies and TV shows for the population. The plaintiff, National Association of the Deaf (NAD), who is the nation’s civil rights organization for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing population in the United States of America, claimed that there was an accessibility issue due to the lack of closed captions for the content presented through videos on the Hulu’s service.
The ADA lawsuit settlement agreed to the resolution and Hulu was to adhere to the caption quality and closed caption for all full-length English and Spanish video content. Hulu also agreed to make content available with full captions.
4. HRB Digital LLC
National Federation of the Blind v. HRB Digital LLC (2013)
One of the largest tax return companies, HRB Digital LLC, in the United States offers services online via website and mobile applications. The plaintiff, the National Federation of the Blind made a claim that HRB’s website was incompatible with assistive technologies that are often used by people with disabilities There were also claims made that the website had issues with keyboard navigations. HRB Digital agreed to hire skilled accessibility coordinators to adopt a web accessibility policy.
The Bottom Line
It is important for websites to comply with the ADA and its guidelines. Companies and websites should hire qualified individuals to assess their website through side-wide inspections if they are unable to do so themselves if they are to be confident in their efforts to avoid being sued over ADA compliance.