Insights: Article

ADA Compliance – It’s Not Just About Buildings

By Linda Albrecht

May 20, 2017

Many of us take for granted our hearing, our eyesight, and our freedom of mobility. Put yourself in the position of a person who is visually impaired and try to navigate a website or mobile app. The accessibility of your website could make the difference between someone doing business with you or going elsewhere.

Websites Neglected

Financial institutions have been sensitive to the accessibility of their physical places of businesses and ATMs by making the necessary accommodations so that all customers can have access and feel comfortable. But many have ignored the possibility that not everyone may be able to navigate their website because of its specific design elements.

Lawsuits Threatened

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public places. We most often think of public places as physical buildings; however, in this information age, this concept has also been expanded to websites. Despite the absence of finalized laws related to website accessibility, financial institutions and other businesses have been threatened with lawsuits unless they comply. The Department of Justice is scheduled to issue final guidance on the topic in 2018, but until then, you can refer to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to help develop a compliant website.

Steps to Take Now

While we wait for final rules on the topic, there are some things you can do to be proactive and hopefully help your organization avoid possible litigation:

  • Conduct a self-assessment of your website. In addition to comparing it to requirements outlined in Title III of the ADA and in the WCAG, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided a list of things to consider on its website, www.hhs.gov. 
  • Check your website for weaknesses with AChecker (http://achecker.ca). 
  • Review contracts with vendors you use to host your website and other electronic services for their commitment to ADA compliance. 
  • If you happen to be a target for a potential lawsuit, don’t ignore it.

With some planning and conscious due diligence, you can provide an environment of accessibility regardless of a customer’s ability.

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