In the past several months, many Vermont businesses (including some of our clients) have become targets of demand letters and threatened lawsuits arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In other words, the buzzards are circling!
Most of the claims we've heard about have focused on resorts, hotels and restaurants, brick-and-mortar retailers, medical care providers, and financial institutions. The demands allege that the target businesses' websites fail to provide access to people with certain disabilities.
Using the ADA as a guide, plaintiff's complaints demand that businesses must allow for "access" by people with certain disabilities who may have difficulty viewing, hearing or interacting with some Internet content. People who generally need ADA compliant websites are those that suffer from blindness, low vision, deafness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, limited movement, or epilepsy, among other conditions that might impact a person's ability ti use standard web navigation tools.
Still, the Department of Justice has not issued binding rules or regulations on ADA compliance for websites, so until they do in 2018, these lawsuits may be superfluous. But we'd hate to see our clients in a situation where a lawsuit against them sets the precedent! Thus far, the DOJ and plaintiffs have consistently suggested that websites will be considered ADA compliant if they follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Level AA for ADA accessibility (the guidelines offer three "A" levels of compliance from A to AA to AAA for maximum accessibility). As a practice, we at Eternity have been auditing our sites and providing compliance efforts to achieve that AA level of accessibility.
We're now including ADA accessibility in the planning for all our projects, and are among leaders in the Vermont and new Eng;and web business to do so -- just as we were early with on-page SEO and mobile responsiveness being part of all our work.
If you're thinking of a new website, or need to audit your current site for ADA accessibility issue, we're here to help!