The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) created new guidelines for website accessibility in March. These are in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that help provide effective communication, public accommodations, technical standards, and detailed standards for assistive technology.
In short, your website needs to be accessible to people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA’s requirements for website accessibility generally include:
Avoiding poor color contrast Not relying only on images or design to show information Providing text alternatives for design or widget features Captioning videos Using online forms correctly Having keyboard navigation built into your website Plain language content
These are typical examples of website accessibility barriers. The DOJ’s guidance doesn’t currently detail exact technical changes to make. However, it speaks to website accessibility enforcement becoming a larger priority in the coming months.
You can read the complete guide on the ADA.gov website. It includes user-friendly explanations, sample cases of inaccessible websites, and how the case was resolved.
Who Needs To Update Their Website Accessibility?
Making your website accessible to as many people as possible is the right thing to do. However, this can be difficult when barriers like money, time, lack of staffing, and lack of website and technical knowhow make updates difficult.
The new guidance legally applies to:
State and local government websites Entities covered by ADA Title II Businesses open to the public with websites Entities covered by ADA Title III
Not sure if you are a Title III public business? The types of companies that need to follow these guidelines are explained in Title III.
What Happens If I Don’t Update My Website?
If someone finds your website inaccessible under the legal requirements, they can file a complaint. The penalties include up to $75,000 for a first-time offense, and further offenses can cost $150,000.
If you receive a complaint or aren’t sure about your website issues, you can talk with an attorney who focuses on disability discrimination. There are also free online resources to help check your website accessibility and run a free evaluation on it if you have concerns.
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