During Donald Trump’s Presidency, pending U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations were shelved and no new investigations were opened. Now that the Biden Administration is in charge, what should we expect with regard to the ADA?

Many predicted that the current administration would take a more aggressive approach to enforce the ADA. These predictions were confirmed as President Biden publicly declared his commitment to advancing disability rights.

Taking these more aggressive enforcement declarations into consideration, we highly recommend that businesses focus on ADA compliance for their websites.

Is your website ADA compliant?

The DOJ establishes regulations with regard to the ADA.  In the construction space, for example, the DOJ has detailed regulations that cover everything from elevator buttons to handlebars in bathrooms. Thus, for most ADA issues, one needs only to obtain a copy of the applicable regulations to determine compliance and make the required change.

Such changes are “set and forget”: a handlebar lasts for years. In contrast, there are no such government-issued regulations that apply to websites offering services to the public. As a result, it is far more complex for businesses to determine website accessibility compliance without outside assistance.  This complexity has created an environment vulnerable to website accessibility litigation.

Using the ADA’s non-discrimination mandate, plaintiffs’ attorneys in numerous states have issued thousands of demand letters and filed lawsuits contending that the plaintiff was unable to access services offered by the defendant’s website and the defendant has violated the ADA and local civil rights laws.

Resolving these lawsuits is tricky and the DOJ has proven to be protective of its approach to the ADA, despite failing to create clear standards to assist businesses in complying with the Act.

WCAG 2.1 & Web Accessibility

The lack of government-issued website accessibility regulations created the need for standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”). The WCAG was developed by the W3C, which is an organization that sets the standards for various aspects of web development.

The W3C’s standards have gained prominence as best practices for web design. They require that websites are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust to people with disabilities, including visual, hearing, cognitive, and physical impairments.

From a litigation perspective, the WCAG is referenced by a great deal of case law and is commonly treated as a de facto standard by plaintiffs’ lawyers. You can find the W3C’s standards here: w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag.

As so many website owners require external help when it comes to digital accessibility, UserWay provides a strong suite of tools and solutions to simplify the process. Site owners leverage UserWay’s powerful AI to automatically identify and remediate compliance violations, develop alt text, and create a seamless user experience.

Conclusion

It is important to implement internal and external website development policies that address accessibility. Being mindful of digital accessibility now will both enhance your site for individuals with disabilities as well as help prevent your business from being targeted during the next wave of website accessibility litigation.


Learn more about accessibility today by going to userway.org or connect with us directly at support@userway.org

[1] https://www.essentialaccessibility.com/blog/biden-effect-doj-digital-accessibility