How to Avoid ADA Litigation.
By Tamiracle Williams, GTR Communications Specialist
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law on July 26, 1990, makes it unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities. ADA requires that public accommodations have websites, tools and technology that are accessible to people with temporary and permanent disabilities. Web accessibilities should encompass all disabilities that affect web access: auditory, cognitive, neurologic, physical, speech and visual.
In 2012, 56.7 million Americans had some form of a disability, according to data from the Census Bureau. Dictionary.com defines disability as “a physical or mental handicap, that prevents a person from living a full, normal, life.”
There has been an increase in web accessibility lawsuits, in the United State, in the past few years. Major corporations like Dunkin Donuts and Winn-Dixie have both faced lawsuits in the State of Florida for inaccessible websites. More recently, several real estate associations and Realtors have received demand letters regarding website accessibility.
In a Greater Tampa Realtors exclusive webinar, Juana Watkins, General Counsel and Vice President of Law and Policy at Florida Realtors provided members with a few technical things to keep in mind about ADA compliance.
- Alternative (ALT) Text for Images. If someone is visually impaired and uses a screen reader that reads aloud the information on the page, you need ALT text for all visual images including logos and icons.
- Transcripts for Audio. Providing text transcripts is crucial for people who are hearing impaired. It makes the information accessible and allows for better search engine performance as platforms such as Google and Bing can index the information discussed in the audio/video files. A transcription service van help you create transcripts and closed caption files.
- Social media. Social media platforms are increasing efforts to make the respective platforms more accessible, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram all have ALT text and/or captioning tools available on their native platforms to help make content ADA compliant. *Please Note: Some of these features may not be available on third-party social media management platforms.
- RSS and Embedded Content. If you have IDX or RSS coming to your website, you may be responsible for the accessibility of the content. Currently there is no case law, but it’s recommended that you use widgets for this type of content on your website.
It’s also important to have a conversation with your web administrator about the Website Content Accessibilities Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations and governments internationally. It explains how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities and provides a checklist.