Do you like the idea of getting sued? That’s a stupid question, right? But sadly, if your website is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you could end up in court.
Handicapped bathroom stalls. Curb ramps with raised surfaces. Elevators in public buildings. Many of the public accommodations the ADA requires are so ubiquitous we barely see them anymore. But one significant public accommodation is vastly ignored by governments and businesses, leaving them exposed to lawsuits: website access.
Yes, ADA requirements for websites apply to your business.
It’s been established law for decades that websites are places of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA. People of all abilities must be able to navigate and interact with your website. Your website must be accessible for all Americans, including blind and deaf individuals and people with limited mobility.
If you’re not sure if your website is accessible, it probably isn’t. A staggering 85 percent of government websites are not compliant with ADA rules. Since many essential services and programs are only available or accessed online, lack of accessibility has become a major source of liability for local, state and federal government as well as businesses with websites.
However, the ADA requirements for websites do not contain any specific guidelines for websites.
While the ADA requires websites to be accessible, the Department of Health and Human Services (the agency that enforces the ADA) has not issued guidelines for website owners to follow (though advocacy groups have).
This lack of guidelines had been a line of defense against ADA lawsuits. In September 2018, the Department of Justice issued a letter clarifying that it would not issue specific website guidelines and that lack of guidelines did not let websites off the hook for complying with the ADA. “The Department has consistently taken the position that the absence of a specific regulation does not serve as a basis for noncompliance with a statute’s requirements,” it explained.
A Little Investment Now Can Prevent Big Settlements Later
Don’t risk running afoul of some overzealous lawyer. Instead, hire an overzealous web developer to update the code and accessibility of your website. It is much more affordable than paying a settlement and attorney’s fees in a lawsuit and, generally speaking, a lot more fun. Hooker & Company is here to help. As a part of our digital marketing services we offer website development and can ensure that your website is adhering to these guidelines.