As digital is fast becoming mainstream, there is a growing need for enterprises and organizations to ensure their websites and other digital properties are ADA compliant. This is mission-critical not only to make them accessible for people with disabilities but to also mitigate the risk of unwarranted legal enforcement.Talk to an Expert
What Is ADA? - An Introduction To The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against disabled Americans. First established in 1990, the act now requires websites owned by states, local governments, or businesses to conform to its accessibility requirements.
United States regulations have acknowledged the WCAG framework, during amendments made to the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, adding Section 508. The updated guidance requires federal agencies to make electronic information accessible. In 2017, Section 508 was further revised requiring compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level A/AA.
Local governments, state governments, nonprofits, or businesses who do not comply with the required standards face monetary fines of up to $150,000 for repeat violations. Funding may also be revoked if the resource is federally funded.
ADA Web Accessibility Conformance Levels
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has two levels of conformance that apply specifically to web accessibility.
ADA web conformance includes state and local governments (Title II) and businesses that are open to the public (Title III).
ADA Title II (State And Local Governments)
ADA Title II prohibits discrimination against disabled users across all online government services.
Such activities can range from filing a police report to filing tax documents, applying for state benefits, or applying for a school program. In summary, Title II applies to all online services, programs, or activities of state and local governments.
ADA Title III (Businesses Open To The Public)
ADA Title III prohibits discrimination against disabled users by businesses open to the public, which under the ADA are referred to as ‘public accommodations’.
As with government services, an increasing number of businesses now operate online, which also raises the risk that a disabled user could face accessibility challenges with a business’s website or digital content.
Some examples of businesses open to the public include banks, retail stores, hotels, hospitals, sports arenas, along with food and drink establishments. Although this list is far from exhaustive.
Business websites with inaccessible web design can limit the ability of disabled users to access goods, services, or privileges. This would make that website inaccessible and in breach of ADA Title III.
Regular accessibility compliance checks greatly reduce the chance of an ADA Title III violation. For businesses, it also ensures maximum usage of a website, considering that one in four US adults are considered disabled.