Should My Website Be ADA compliant?
Yes. No question. Your website must be ADA compliant.
This question has been playing out in the courts over the past few years, where the grand majority of cases have ruled that websites must be ADA compliant. And responding to calls for clarification from Congress, this fall the Department of Justice did clarify that both websites and mobile apps must comply with the ADA. Unfortunately they didn’t clarify the rules - which is only leading to more litigation.
As you might guess law firms have jumped on this opportunity and have established a cottage industry focused on website ADA compliance just as they did for physical barrier ADA. Since this is digital, the process of generating demand letters and legal complaints is incredibly easy and fast - especially compared to physical barrier ADA cases. So expect this to continue this exponential growth.
Recently, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported on the almost 3x surge in web-related ADA compliance lawsuits in 2018. This reporting was only of Federal lawsuits, and did not include state or demand letters which are not recorded, and have been thought to be most prolific.
Its important to know that while there are concentrations of lawsuits in certain industries and states, this is very wide-spread. Anecdotally, a small mom and pop manufacturer of custom snowshoes in Vermont was hit by a law firm in Boca Raton, Florida. Any website is a target, and unless that website was specifically designed for ADA compliance, it isn’t. Far from it.
How do I make my Website ADA Compliant?
The first question is whether to invest in making your website compliant, or to build a fresh ADA compliant website from scratch. Where are you in the life-cycle of your website? Is it more than 4 years old? Given that the cost for auditing and remediation can easily run past $10K, it may be a better investment to start from scratch - just make sure to hire a reputable ADA compliant web designer, such as us.
If you want to make your website ADA compliant, there is a two-step process: 1. Audit and 2. Remediation.
ADA Website Compliance Test / Audit
The best practice is to take a 3 step approach that tests against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Since the WCAG is nuanced and interpretive, it’s important not to rely on automated testing alone.
1. Automated ADA Website Audit
Such an audit scans the entire site for WCAG violations, and needs to provide reporting that identifies every issue in a report that you can save for record keeping, and use for remediation. Unfortunately automated testing can only detect ~30% of violations.
2. Manual ADA Testing
Code of templates and unique pages is reviewed for WCAG compliance.
3. Assistive Technology ADA Testing
Templates and unique pages are tested using screen readers and tools that people with disabilities use to access websites and mobile apps.
When gauging these services, it’s important to focus on the resulting reporting. You want full-site documentation of all violations, and then remediation guidance for each.
The cost for all three steps can easily go beyond $10K, so many take a phased approach starting with automated testing. Just be sure not to feel overly secure until you’ve remediated against auditing by all three steps.
ADA Website Remediation
With good reporting in hand, your design, development, and content teams can pursue remediation. Unless you lack such teams, you should not outsource. It’s important for your teams to learn from the remediation process, and they will. They will learn all they need to avoid such issues in the future.
Given the fact that the web is today an intrinsic part of life for all people, there is no question whether your website should be ADA compliant. It’s also established law, and the cost of non-compliance is too great to ignore.
Let us know if we can help.