In recent years, there has been a significant increase in lawsuits against businesses in California for having websites that are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires businesses to make reasonable accommodations to ensure that their products and services are accessible to all customers. This includes ensuring that their websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Businesses that are required to have ADA compliant websites include:
- Public accommodations, such as restaurants, hotels, and retail stores
- State and local government agencies
- Private companies that offer goods or services to the public
- Places of public accommodation, such as movie theaters and concert venues
It is important to note that while the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, there are currently no federally approved guidelines on ADA compliance specifically for websites and web pages.
The ADA requires that businesses and organizations make reasonable accommodations to ensure that their products and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes ensuring that their websites are accessible, but the ADA does not provide specific guidelines on how to do so.
However, the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is responsible for enforcing the ADA, has stated that it expects businesses and organizations to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which are developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG 2.0 is a widely recognized international standard for web accessibility and has been adopted by many countries and organizations around the world.
While WCAG 2.0 is not a legally required standard, the DOJ has indicated that it will use WCAG 2.0 as a reference in evaluating the accessibility of websites and web pages under the ADA. Additionally, many courts have also looked to WCAG 2.0 as a benchmark for determining whether a website is compliant with the ADA.
In summary, while there are no federally approved guidelines on ADA compliance specifically for websites and web pages, it is widely accepted that following the guidelines outlined in WCAG 2.0 is the best way to ensure that a website is compliant with the ADA.
what is WCAG 2.0?
WCAG 2.0 stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. It is a set of guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to help make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG 2.0 is a widely recognized international standard for web accessibility and has been adopted by many countries and organizations around the world.
WCAG 2.0 consists of a set of success criteria that websites must meet in order to be considered accessible. These success criteria are organized into four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
- Perceivable: Web content must be presented in a way that is perceivable to users, including those with visual, auditory, and physical impairments. This includes providing text alternatives for non-text content, such as images and videos, and ensuring that the text and background color have a high contrast ratio.
- Operable: Web content must be operable and easy to use, including for users with motor impairments. This includes making sure that the website is navigable using only a keyboard and that the website’s navigation and controls are easy to use.
- Understandable: Web content must be easy to understand and use, including for users with cognitive impairments. This includes using clear and simple language and providing clear instructions for using the website.
- Robust: Web content must be robust and work on a variety of devices and browsers. This includes using web standards and technologies that are supported by a wide range of devices and browsers.
WCAG 2.0 includes three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A represents the minimum level of conformance, while level AAA represents the highest level of conformance. Most organizations aim for level AA conformance, which is considered the recommended level for most websites.
By following the guidelines outlined in WCAG 2.0, businesses and organizations can ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities and meet the requirements of the ADA and other accessibility laws.
What makes a website ADA compliant?
To create a website that is WCAG 2.0 compliant, it is important to focus on the following elements:
- Text alternatives: All non-text content, such as images and videos, should have text alternatives that describe the content.
- Color contrast: The text and background color should have a high contrast ratio to make it easier for individuals with visual impairments to read.
- Keyboard accessibility: The website should be navigable using only a keyboard to allow individuals who are unable to use a mouse to access the content.
- Page structure: The website should have a logical and consistent page structure, with headings, lists, and other elements used appropriately to convey the hierarchy and organization of the content.
- Audio and video: Any audio or video content should include captions or transcriptions to allow individuals with hearing impairments to access the content.
In addition to these elements, it is important to regularly test and update your website to ensure that it remains compliant with the ADA and WCAG 2.0 standards. There are a number of tools and resources available to help businesses ensure that their websites are compliant, including the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) and the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
Ignoring the importance of ADA compliance for your website can be costly for your business. In addition to facing potential lawsuits, non-compliant websites can also negatively impact your search engine ranking and customer satisfaction. By taking the necessary steps to ensure that your website is compliant, you can protect your business and ensure that all customers have equal access to your products and services.