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What is ADA Compliance and who does if affect?

  • According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data, approximately 54 million Americans have a disability. Those people with disabilities can range from minor to severe and cover an extremely wide range of issues both physical and mental. Most businesses and organizations do not consider those with disabilities when making the day to day decisions of their companies. The thought that a person who is blind or deaf will never enter their sphere of thought when coding as they have never experienced this issue or even in some cases feel that the number of people who might interact with their sites that have disabilities is a negligible number that is not a cause for concern. This is where the issue lies. This consideration that is being overlooked is where the ADA has been asked to step in on the behalf of these who are marginalized. We are seeing that many websites are inaccessible and in turn open the company up for litigation under the ADA.

  • Why should my website be compliant?
    There has been a large uptick in litigation against companies due to their websites being inaccessible to the disabled public. This is in part due to recent ruling against large companies such as Winn Dixie where the courts have mandated these companies deal with their compliance issues. So, websites that are not compliant that impede the full access to services can lead to litigation. This is obviously very costly and time consuming.

  • How do I get compliant?
    We at FieldsResearch are offering the service of compliance with the WCAG 2.0 to current websites (see information section below to know what that means). We are knowledgeable about the issue at hand and are able to help companies large and small bring their web presence into the common standard. This includes, but not limited to: making sure all images are tagged for the visually impaired, pdfs are readable as most are scanned images, the coding is brought up to the new common standard. These services will not only help your compliance with the ADA but will also greatly improve your sites searchability and general visibility across browsers and platforms. If you would like more information about the background of this issue, please see the Important Questions and information Below.

 

Important Questions and Information:

 

What is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was created in 1990 to protect the rights of Americans to be able to have full and equal enjoyment of the public arena with no exclusions for the disabled population. The area that specifically addresses the area of accommodation is Title III of the ADA which has most recently been amended in 2010.

 

How does the ADA cover the Web.

The issue has been that the ADA in all of its forms fails to address the connection between the physical, brick and mortar, and the virtual accommodations presented on the web. With this ambiguity has brought a great deal of litigation over the years. The first major case of litigation dealing with the ADA was in 2006 in a case of Target Corporation vs National Federation for the Blind.4 This case was really the starting point for the struggle that continues today. In the more distant past the rulings have been in favor to a degree with the corporations. That has changed significantly in June of 2017. A Florida federal judge issued the first web accessibility trial verdict against grocer Winn-Dixie.3 Since this verdict there are several other cases2 that have been allowed to move forward as this has set the new precedent. The statements that the courts are agreeing on is:

  1. Websites are subject to the ADA, regardless of whether the goods and services are offered online and in physical locations;
  2. Courts don’t need agency regulations setting a standard for website accessibility to decide whether a website violates the ADA.

 

What does the ADA plan to do in the future in regards to web presences?

Specifically we know that this means there is a great deal of change coming to the web world. Given this lack of consideration for the accessibility to the disabled, there is a large proportion of the web that is generally inaccessible to a section of society. So, now we have entered a very critical time for the web community. The number of cases being filed in these kinds of cases has increased exponentially in the past year and that number is only going to go up. Companies are going to be facing more stringent regulations based on making sure accommodation is being made for all people to have access to the space. This is where the issue of level of regulation becomes an issue. In the case of Gomez v Bang & Olufsen American Inc1 it stated,

"The ADA does not require places of public accommodations to create full-service websites for disabled persons. In fact, the ADA does not require a place of public accommodation to have a website at all. All the ADA requires is that, if a retailer chooses to have a website, the website cannot impede a disabled person’s full use and enjoyment of the brick-and-mortar store. "1

 The question is who can know what impeding looks like and how to remedy the situation.

 

What are the regulation that are coming?

The ADA has published a document, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities. This document is a Supplemental advance notice of proposed rulemaking. In laymen's terms it is a warning that new regulations are on the way. The most recent information is that this could go into effect as soon as January 2018, but is still up for information. The document states that the most likely standard to follow is going to be the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 is going to be the standard that is recommended. This has several levels, but most courts have stood with the A & AA levels of coding. These standards are more along the international standards line.

 


 Sources:

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