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Is your website compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Is your website compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
What you need to know – and do – as the U.S. Department of Justice issues guidance

On March 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new guidance on website accessibility under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The guidance addresses how private businesses, state, and local governments should ensure their websites are accessible to persons with disabilities. The guidance places specific emphasis on web accessibility as a DOJ enforcement priority. It’s already underway: 2021 saw an approximate 15% increase in federal website accessibility lawsuits – and several prominent suits have paved the way for other suits and legal precedents.

In recent years, thousands of cases have been filed alleging that websites are inaccessible to the disabled. While the digital transformation has highlighted the need for website accessibility, COVID-19 has further accelerated the discussion, lawsuits, and demand for compliance.

Although a specific standard has not been issued by the DOJ, The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards have been the baseline to maintain. To further muddy the waters, WCAG maintains several versions (2.0 & 2.1), proposed versions, and levels of compliance A, AA, & AAA.

Businesses, state, or local governments should strive to maintain a website at WCAG Level 2.0 AA compliance or higher. The guidance specifically identifies the following areas of focus for compliance:

  • Color contrast in text
  • Text cues when using color in text
  • Alternative text for images, illustrations, charts, etc.
  • Video captions
  • Online forms – labels, keyboard access, and clear instructions
  • Text size and zoom capabilities
  • Keyboard navigation

The standard should apply to website pages and linked content (videos, documents, etc.) To assist with compliance, automated tools have become very popular. While cost effective, they are not a replacement for proper development, oversight, and a manual independent review. Businesses and governments that have not considered website ADA compliance should have an initial assessment performed to identify gaps in compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, and develop an action plan to maintain reasonable compliance. Those who have made steps to maintain a compliant site should periodically complete a review to ensure the baseline standard is maintained. It is important to remember that achieving a site that is 100 percent compliant 100 percent of the time is not a feasible goal in the current digital world.

Additional information on the ADA guidance can be found the on the DOJ website:
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-issues-web-accessibility-guidance-under-americans-disabilities-act 

At Herbein + Company, Inc. and our subsidiary Financial Outsourcing Solutions (FOS), we have dedicated professionals who focus on information technology, information security, and cyber security 100% of the time. Contact us for a Website ADA assessment or cyber health assessment checkup on your organization’s cyber exposures and risks. Read more about our IT Risk Management Services here.

Article compiled by Jeff Johns.