Making Your Kansas City Website ADA Compliant
People with disabilities such as blindness, deafness, seizures, and dozens of other physical and mental challenges, do use the Internet on a daily basis.
People with disabilities are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) against business discriminatory practices.
So the question is….
Does your business Website meet the needs of those with disabilities, or does it have possible discriminatory issues? Examples of ADA discriminatory issues on a Website…
CBS News, and many others are introducing this topic by trying to scare you into reading their story.
March 22, 2018
They use the splashy headline that many business owners are ending up in Federal Court through class action lawsuits, because their Websites use discriminatory practices against people with disabilities.
Yes, the number of lawsuits are dramatically rising, and it certainly is a possibility for any business to end up in Federal Court.
But let’s go a different route. The route of saying, “we, as business owners, should do the right thing and do what we can to make our Websites accessible to those with disabilities”.
This headline is not as splashy as the CBS News story headline, but I think the end result would be the same.
Website example 1 –
A person is blind (disability). They have a computer at home that allows them to surf the Internet. Basically it reads what’s on Web pages to them through speakers.
They are searching for a plumber in Google, and they click the link to a plumbers Website. The plumber’s Website is not set up well enough for the blind person’s computer to read the phone number out loud to them. In effect, people that are blind can, and are claiming, that a Website’s inability to communicate the phone number to them, is in effect discriminating against them.
In the right litigious situation, that plumbing company now gets pulled into Federal Court as part of a class action ADA discrimination lawsuit because someone who is blind could not get what they needed from the Website, because it was discriminating against blind people.
Something to consider…there is Braille on the buttons at a drive up ATM. A blind person may have gotten a ride to the bank in the evening, and want to use the machine. Because of the braille on the machine they have access to the banks services. If the Braille was not there, they could claim that the bank is keeping them from accessing their money.
Website example 2 –
A person has seizures when they see certain patterns of blinking lights (This is a person with an ADA covered disability). They come to a Website that has something on the site that blinks more than 8 times a second (Certain animated videos can have this effect). They have to quickly leave Website or suffer a seizure. This could be construed as a Website that discriminates against those with this type of disability.
Website example 3 –
A person who is deaf comes to a business Website, and there’s a video at the top of home page with the business owner talking about the company’s services. If this video has no close caption, and the spoken information is not available in text format somewhere else on the same Website page, this could be construed as a Website that discriminates against deaf people.
There are many more common examples about Websites, that a person with disabilities could argue in court discriminates them.
At this point, you’ve decided you want to make your company Website ADA compliant. What must you do?
So here comes the bad news.
As the owner of the company, just as you have to be aware of what your are required to have in your office to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, it is YOUR responsibility as the owner of your company, to designate that someone in your company develop a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) plan for your company Website.
As the owner of the company, it is your responsibility to be familiar with the guidelines document. Don’t worry, it’s only about 2,000 pages long. (I’m not kidding)
Sorry, business owners, you cannot 100% pitch this over the fence to your Web designer to take care of for you.
Your Web design company CANNOT BY THEMSELVES, develop your company’s WCAG plan. It is NOT their company, nor their liability to take on for your company. A Web company can help you implement and help you develop your WCAG plan, but the legal compliance and liability rests solely on the business owner with a company Website.
The Silver Lining.
A WCAG plan can be as simple as a written document saying that your company is familiar with the WCAG, and steps are being considered, or implemented, to try and accommodate the guidelines.
Another silver lining is that the “G” in WCAG is for “Guidelines”. These 2,000+ pages of guidelines are not absolute laws that must be followed.
Also, you’re doing this work because you want your site to be more accessible to those with disabilities. So any honest effort on your part to make your site better is a good thing.
But I think you should also remember the dramatic increase in number of cases in Federal court. Remember that flashy CBS News story.
Do what you can do now, to relatively inexpensively make your site more accessible for those with disabilities. At the same time potentially limiting your chances of ending up in Federal court later. (ADA discrimination cases are Federal offenses, tried in Federal courts. A whole new level of attorney fee’s.)
A simple plan is better than no plan at all.
KC Web Specialists, would be proud to be your partner in the development and implementation of a WCAG plan for your company. Please reach out to me at your convenience if you would like to discuss next steps.
(913) 489-7866 or firstname.lastname@example.org