A little over a year ago, we wrote an article, Is Your Website ADA Compliant?, which explained that a business opening itself to and holding itself out to the public must meet certain requirements to remain in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), which affects not just the physical buildings but a company’s website. Individuals with various disabilities rely on technology to help them navigate websites or access information contained on those websites, and many commercial websites are not designed to interact correctly and effectively with the assistive technology such individuals utilize. As a result, many websites fail to incorporate or activate features that enable users with disabilities to access all of the website’s information or elements.
When the article was first published, it was more of a cautionary tale. However, recently litigation concerning non-ADA compliance in commercial websites has really started to ramp up. Therefore, it is now imperative for companies to assess their websites to ensure compliance or face the increasing risk of litigation, which are extremely difficult and costly to defend.
Recently, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) published an “ADA Best Practices Tool Kit,” which includes website accessibility guidance and a checklist that can be used to verify compliance with the ADA. The tool kit identifies common website accessibility problems and proposes solutions and other considerations to assist in developing ADA-compliant websites. It also includes a detailed action plan for making existing web content accessible. The checklist is intended to guide preliminary assessments of website accessibility, and policies and procedures for maintaining website accessibility.
It should be noted that while the tool kit is primarily geared toward state and local governments, which are governed by a separate title (Title II) of the ADA, it will be helpful to companies to begin determining their compliance. The DOJ has indicated that the same rules significantly impact the website accessibility requirements for companies, which are expected to be issued in 2018. However, in the meantime, ADA lawsuits are being filed based on the general ADA standards and companies cannot wait until the 2018 requirements are issued to move their websites into compliance.
It is far better to spend money now on your IT professional to ensure your company’s website compliance than to be liable for damages and penalties for non-compliance. As always, if you have any questions concerning your company’s compliance with federal, state or local laws, the attorneys at Navigato & Battin are here to help.