Poorly designed websites can create unnecessary barriers for people with disabilities, just as poorly designed buildings prevent some people with disabilities from entering. Access problems often occur because website designers mistakenly assume that everyone sees and accesses a webpage in the same way. This mistaken assumption can frustrate assistive technologies and their users. Accessible website design recognizes these differences and does not require people to see, hear, or use a standard mouse in order to access the information and services provided.
In an August 2016 case involving the University of California Berkeley, the DOJ ruled that the public university was in violation of ADA Title II (similar to Title III but it instead applies to government organizations) because their YouTube channel’s videos didn’t include captions for hearing impaired visitors. The DOJ found this to violate the ADA as deaf users did not have equal access to the online content.
DOJ’s September 25 response did not do what the members asked, but it did provide some helpful guidance and invited Congress to take legislative action to address the exploding website accessibility litigation landscape. DOJ first said it was “evaluating whether promulgating specific web accessibility standards through regulations is necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance with the ADA.” (This is helpful – to at least know this issue has not fallen totally off DOJ’s radar.) It continued:
When the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990, modern communications technologies such as the Internet were still in their infancy. The past few decades, however, have seen the rise of new channels such as websites and mobile applications, raising questions about the ADA’s original mission to make U.S. society more accessible to people with disabilities.
Thanks for writing. While I’m not a lawyer I believe if your physical practice is ADA exempt your web presence, as an extension of that physical business would maintain the same exemption status. If you’d like to be absolutely certain I’d confer with an ADA lawyer (email us, questions at yokoco dot com if you need a referral) but I don’t believe you have reason to worry.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has specifically stated in rulings that websites should be designed so they are accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing, and physical disabilities. There’s a growing body of case law where the DOJ required companies to provide an ADA compliant website and levied hefty penalties when sites failed to measure up.
CKSource Accessibility Checker by CKSource offers a program that allows users to inspect the web accessibility level of content created specifically within the CKEditor program and then solve any web accessibility issues found. It is a brand-new feature of CKEditor with the most recent version 1.0 released on May 19, 2016. Guidelines covered include WCAG 2.0 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Section 508, and U.S. federal procurement standards.
The Trump administration’s DOJ had previously promised to begin using WCAG 2.0 as its formal standard for web accessibility. However, the DOJ recently included this action as part of the department’s “inactive list,” which means that it’s not likely to be adopted in the near future. As a result, a clear standard to judge an organizations’ web accessibility will continue to be interpreted, and the number of ADA website lawsuits is not expected to slow down any time soon.
If you’re specifically checking website compliance with the ADA, the best tool to use would be one that tests for the technical requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA.7 These are widely accepted as the most comprehensive and complete accessibility requirements for digital technology such as websites and electronic documents. WCAG 2.0has even been published as an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization, and is written into anti-discrimination laws and policies in many jurisdictions and countries.
It is very important to keep in mind that to date, no website evaluation tool has been developed that can completely replace a human being. This is because with present technology it is difficult to emulate human attributes such as common sense. In this regard, these tools should be used with caution, and the results that they produce should be interpreted in context with the website you are evaluating. Moreover, since accessibility is a subset of usability, these tools should only be used to evaluate accessibility and not usability since, at best, they can only show you where your site is not accessible.
As a web developer, Ryan's work is what makes the magic happen. He spends most of his time creating custom websites, which involves turning the designers' visual mockups into code. It's lucky that he's such a good problem solver, because many of Ryan's projects involve working with clients to create complex custom functions. He's also one of the few developers in the country with extensive experience developing for the HubSpot CMS.
Additionally, in February 2018, Congress passed the ADA Education and Reform Act, a bill designed to make it harder for disabled Americans to sue businesses for discrimination. Republican lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill argue that the law will help curb “frivolous” lawsuits, while opponents have argued that this law will gut the ADA, essentially giving businesses little reason to follow the ADA guidelines at all.
As organizations around the world scramble to bring their sites into compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), focus on other, preexisting accessibility regulations has also intensified. The United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the most visible and complicated pieces of accessibility legislation. Let’s look at some of the ins and outs of what an ADA compliant website means today. Or, if you're interested in seeing the nitty-gritty details of your site's accessibility, request a free website audit report using the form on this page.
Talk to your web designer about other techniques that will make your site more user-friendly for people with disabilities. Worried that’s not in your budget? Consider the fact that DOJ fines start at $75,000. And it's still yet to be determined if a non-compliant website is liable for one fine or will be charge per page for each violation. As the recent lawsuits illustrate, though, settlements quickly add up into the millions.
The DOJ is currently working to release new technical standards for digital accessibility. The latter updates to the ADA guidelines will be in conjunction with the latest version of WCAG 2.1, which includes the most widely accepted digital accessibility requirements across the globe. If organizations want to overcome the current limitations of ADA guidelines, then they should follow the WCAG 2.1 checklist,11 as well as the suggestions provided by the ADA. The latter two steps, combined with the help of a trusted digital accessibility compliance platform,12 can help organizations achieve digital accessibility best in class standards throughout all of their digital formats and across all media.
The FAE evaluates a web page for its accessibility by referencing the ITAA Web Accessibility Standards which are based on the WCAG 1.0 and Section 508 guidelines. The results of the evaluation are broken into 5 categories: Navigation and Orientation, Text Equivalents, Scripting, Styling and HTML Standards. The judging of the overall performance in each category is a percentage, divided between Pass, Warn and Fail – thus enabling you to focus on the specific areas with most problems.
Axe Chrome Plugin by Deque Systems is a program that evaluates the web accessibility of sites and applications from within the Chrome developer tools, specifically. The plugin assists by generating reports of web accessibility evaluation results and automatically checks single pages, password protected or restricted pages included. The specific browser supported is Google Chrome for this plugin. Supported formats are HTML and XHTML, and the guidelines covered are WCAG 2.0—W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Section 508, and U.S. federal procurement standards. Being a web-based program, the license for access is free and easily accessible.
Enough Time: Users have sufficient time to read and use the website’s content. If part of the website has a time limit, users are able to turn off the time limit, or they can adjust or extend it to at least ten times the default limit (unless the time limit is essential to the website’s functionality, such as auction websites like eBay). Content that moves, blinks, or automatically updates can be paused or stopped unless it’s essential to the website’s functionality.
Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.
The most recent Version 4.2 was released on March 27, 2013. The guidelines included are WCAG 2.0—W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, WCAG 1.0—Section 508, W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, U.S. federal procurement standards, RGAA, French government standards. HiSoftware generates reports of evaluation results, giving step-by-step evaluation guidance and displaying information within the web pages. Reports are provided in HTML, PDF, and CSV format. The program automatically checks single web pages, groups of web pages or sites, as well as restricted or password-protected pages. Browser plugins include Firefox and Internet Explorer 9.
CommonLook PDF Global Access offered by NetCentric Technologies is another web accessibility for PDF documents programs, authored by Adobe Acrobat. The specific format supported is PDF documents or files. CommonLook is a well-known choice for professional PDF web accessibility remediation, and licenses are available for both commercial and enterprise bases.
This past September marked the first time a judge ruled that the ADA applies even to businesses without a physical location. Scribd, an e-book subscription service is considered to provide "a place of public accommodation." Their services are not accessible to blind persons because they cannot be read with a screen reader. The judge reasoned, "Now that the Internet plays such a critical role in the personal and professional lives of Americans, excluding disabled persons from access to covered entities that use it as their principal means of reaching the public would defeat the purpose of this important civil rights legislation."
Website barriers weren’t on anyone’s radar when the ADA came into force in 1990. At that time, the Internet wasn’t an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Since then, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has made it clear that websites are nevertheless covered by this law. For instance, it has written: “Increasingly, private entities of all types are providing goods and services to the public through websites that operate as places of public accommodation under title III of the ADA. Many websites of public accommodations, however, render use by individuals with disabilities difficult or impossible due to barriers posed by websites designed without accessible features.”4
Another federal agency, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB), also known as the Access Board, issues guidelines to ensure that buildings, facilities and transit vehicles are accessible to people with disabilities. The Guidelines & Standards issued under the ADA and other laws establish design requirements for the construction and alteration of facilities. These standards apply to places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities.
Another important consideration is that the ADA does not allow businesses to simply provide an alternative such as a phone number. Lastly, include accessibility issues as part of your website and mobile strategy. When new technologies are implemented or pages added, part of the process should include the implications for persons with disabilities.
HTML tags – specific instructions understood by a web browser or screen reader. One type of HTML tag, called an “alt” tag (short for “alternative text”), is used to provide brief text descriptions of images that screen readers can understand and speak. Another type of HTML tag, called a “longdesc” tag (short for “long description”), is used to provide long text descriptions that can be spoken by screen readers.
Thus, if there are barriers preventing a customer with a disability from doing business in a place of public accommodation, those barriers must be removed (as long as it’s not a great hardship to do so) in order to comply with the ADA. Barriers could be physical, such as a display rack that is out of reach. They could be in the form of discriminatory policies, like a “no animals allowed” rule that excludes people with guide dogs and other service animals. Barriers could also be digital, such as a public website or app that is not accessible to people with certain disabilities.
“Streaming of video programming over the Internet—by defendant Netflix and other similar providers—has revolutionized the entertainment industry; it is fast becoming the dominant means of delivering movies, television shows, and other entertainment offerings to the American public. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing should not be prevented from fully participating in this aspect of American life. Netflix’s denial of equal access to, and full enjoyment of, its “Watch Instantly” service violates the ADA.”-Assistant Attorney General, Thomas E. Perez.
Videos need to incorporate features that make them accessible to everyone. Provide audio descriptions of images (including changes in setting, gestures, and other details) to make videos accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. Provide text captions synchronized with the video images to make videos and audio tracks accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The authoring tool is CKEditor itself, and languages include Dutch, English and German. CKSource provides step-by-step evaluation guidance on web accessibility results and will display the information within the web pages themselves. The program will also modify the presentation of web pages as needed. It automatically checks single web pages, and supported formats include HTML and XHTML. Licenses are available open source.
Input Assistance: When users are entering input into the website, any input errors are automatically detected and written out, providing, for instance, text descriptions that identify fields that were not filled out or data that was in the wrong format. The website also provides suggestions to fix the errors. Input fields and buttons are labeled to provide their functions and instructions. If the user’s input is being used for legal purposes or financial transactions, then the user must be able to reverse submissions or correct errors.
Two agencies within the U.S. Department of Labor enforce parts of the ADA. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has coordinating authority under the employment-related provisions of the ADA. The Civil Rights Center (CRC) is responsible for enforcing Title II of the ADA as it applies to the labor- and workforce-related practices of state and local governments and other public entities. Visit the Laws & Regulations subtopic for specific information on these provisions.
Consequently, the Department intends to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its Title II regulations to expressly address the obligations of public entities to make the websites they use to provide programs, activities, or services or information to the public accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities under the legal framework established by the ADA.