With the number of lawsuits regarding web accessibility growing exponentially, online inclusivity has become a major concern for many businesses.
Lawsuits: Pending and Trending
In 2018, web accessibility lawsuits nearly tripled with an increase of 177%. A trend that has continued this year when more than 75 New York art galleries were targeted with lawsuits. Given the rise in ADA-related litigation, taking a proactive approach in addressing your compliance practices may be prudent.
Current Law, Standards and Guidelines
Title III of the ADA requires that every owner, lessor or operator of a “place of public accommodation” provide equal access to users who meet ADA standards for disability. The ADA, however, does not specifically address websites. As a result, courts around the U.S. interpret the standards differently when it comes to websites.
Without a clear set of legal requirements, how can you tell if your website is meeting accessibility standards? The best measure available is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). W3C is an international community of professionals and public experts that has emerged as an authoritative voice in the industry. They have worked to create the WCAG, which is a set of universally accepted standards to unify website development.
These universally accepted standards include four guiding principles known as POUR: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. Web content should integrate those principles to meet one of WCAG’s three levels of conformance: A (minimum), AA and AAA (maximum). It’s important to choose a level of conformance that’s achievable for your organization, yet not restraining to your design and development process.
Provide Accessible Solutions for All Users
Should you meet or exceed the standards? Keeping up with web accessibility standards and guidelines is an ongoing responsibility across a changing landscape. There is technically no legal definition, so where is the finish line? And how will you balance and prioritize? Most organizations set their standards at level AA. An accessibility audit of your site can help you determine your current level of accessibility and identify areas for improvement.
Keeping up with web accessibility standards and guidelines is an ongoing responsibility across a continuously changing landscape. –Dan Nordquist, Development & Technology Expert
Providing accessible solutions is not only proactive, but also the right thing for your user community — everyone benefits. Understanding users’ needs and putting them at the center of the process will grow your audience and ultimately give you a competitive advantage.