Are you looking at that question and wondering why you haven't heard about ADA compliant websites before? That's because there are no real instructions or standards for you to follow. That doesn't mean that some controversy or truth to making websites usable by those who have disabilities doesn't exist.
Back in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was going to include the internet in the "places of public accommodation" outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The DOJ gave itself until 2018 to come up with the new rules. However, that does not necessarily mean that it will happen. In the meantime, it may be a good idea to have at least some idea of how the ADA could affect your website.
Lawsuits based on ADA website compliance
Last August, the DOJ determined that the University of California Berkeley's YouTube videos violated the ADA. When the university asked how they were to fix the problem, the DOJ recommended the school look to the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
It seems as though numerous institutions and businesses find themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits alleging violations of the ADA. Those lawsuits may also cite the W3C rules as the source of the violations. Many of them turn out to be shams meant to extract a monetary payment from the business to make the lawsuit go away. Without any concrete guidelines, it is nearly impossible to prove a supposed violation.
What does the W3C require?
The W3C does include recommendations that could someday be part of the ADA guidelines for websites. Even though you and your business are not bound by these recommendations, it may not be a bad idea to have a general idea of what they are:
- Anyone should be able to use your media content. This may require the ability to change the text or pause screens for better readability. The recommendation is for the content to be adaptable and clearly seen and heard.
- Anyone should be able to use a keyboard to navigate your website. Navigation should be informative and easily used. Content should not include anything that may cause seizures. Readers should be able to stop moving screens to read the content fully.
- Anyone should be able to understand the language on your website. Your website's structure should be predictable and help users avoid mistakes. If a user makes mistakes, those mistakes should be easily correctable.
- Your website should be compatible with technologies intended to help disabled users.
Bringing your website into compliance with these recommendations could take some technical assistance.
Don't jump through any hoops just yet
If you consider following the W3C recommendations in response to a lawsuit filed against your business, you may want to wait. There may be no need to spend the time, effort and money that may be required in order to make your website "ADA compliant." Instead, you may want to contact an attorney who can help.