What to do if your hotel receives an ADA web compliance lawsuit

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ADA compliance lawsuits  are on the rise. In 2018, the number of website accessibility lawsuits exceeded 2,250 — that’s nearly triple the number from 2017. In this post, we explain the issues surrounding ADA-compliant websites and what to do if your hotel receives an ADA web compliance lawsuit.

The Impact of ADA-related Lawsuits

With the recent spike in lawsuits, it only makes sense to know what to do if your hotel receives a compliance lawsuit of its own. To add context to this issue, it’s first worth highlighting a few recent examples.

At the start of this year, a Fort Lauderdale woman and her attorney reached settlements with at least 20 hotels and motels in Florida because their websites’ reservations systems “failed to provide any information regarding the accessibility of the hotel or rooms”.

In a separate case last year, Avanti Hotel in Palm Springs was accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because its website was deemed as inaccessible to people with seeing or hearing problems. For the hotel to address the issue and make its website ADA compliant, it will cost about $3,000. Payment in damages to the plaintiff is reported to be an additional $8,000-20,000.

Confusion Around ADA Compliance

The surge in lawsuits is partly due to a lack of clarification around ADA, which was enacted back in 1990, before the rise of the internet. The law only provided the requirements for businesses’ physical locations to properly accommodate disabled individuals but didn’t provide any guidance for the internet, or web-based and mobile applications. Instead, hoteliers have to make their best judgment based on the suggested guidelines from the Worldwide Web Consortium or W3C — the governing body of the web.

If a website does not meet these guidelines, it risks being on the recipient end of a compliance lawsuit. Yet businesses, including hotels, remain confused and continue to feel vulnerable by the overall lack of clarity. For that reason, we recommend having a plan that mitigates the risk of an ADA-related complaints, and being aware of the steps required

How Your Hotel Should Handle an ADA Web Compliance Lawsuit

Below, we’ve outlined the three key steps to take if your hotel finds itself on the receiving end of a website-related ADA compliance lawsuit.

1. Seek legal advice

If your hotel receives notice that it’s being sued for violation of the ADA, get in contact with a lawyer. Choose an expert who specializes in ADA compliance and Internet Law.

2. Get a website audit

After getting in touch with a lawyer, you’ll need to carry out a website audit. An audit will help you to identify if your website doesn’t meet any of the accessibility guidelines set out by the W3C. There are plenty of audit tools available. If you’re on a budget, you can use free-to-use options, such as Lighthouse, which can be added within the Chrome browser.

However, bear in mind that the free version of Lighthouse won’t fix any issues it uncovers — you’ll have to do this yourself or ask your digital marketing agency to carry out the fixes for you.

Premium tools offer a more comprehensive audit process. At Travel Tripper, our ADA Compliance auditing and monitoring platform is specifically designed for hotel websites. It includes automated scans, manual testing using accessibility tools, and testing across multiple desktop and mobile browsers, all of which helps guests to navigate your website and complete a booking.

3. Update your website

After the audit is complete, you can start making any necessary changes to your website. Even if the lawsuit never makes it to court, your hotel website still needs to be ADA compliant — most obviously to help avoid further lawsuits. Of course, the main reason is that ensuring your website is accessible to anyone with a disability is clearly the right thing to do and shows respect and care for your guests.

How to achieve ADA compliance

It’s actually relatively straightforward to make sure your hotel website is ADA compliant. Here are some of the main areas to consider:

  • Ensure all of your images, graphics, animations and video have “alt” text that describes their content.
  • Having easily resizable text.
  • Make sure the code on your website and booking engine supports assistive tools, such as screen readers and alternative keyboard devices
  • Make sure documents are available in HTML text-based formats

For more in-depth information on this topic, read our comprehensive post to ensure your hotel website is ADA compliant or sign up for our webinar about how to mitigate the risk of compliance lawsuits. In the meantime, stay tuned for the final post in this series where we’ll provide hoteliers with an essential checklist for ADA compliance.

Travel Tripper & Pegasus can work with you to ensure your hotel website conforms to standards of ADA compliance. Request a consultation today to get more information and support!

Working on a website can be difficult. Adding new media and updating pages is chore, even though you know your company website needs to evolve and become more accessible to the many users you are trying to reach. Maybe when you first built it, accessibility wasn’t even really discussed. But now you’ve taken a step back, looked at your customer base with a desire to include everyone and you’ve realized just how important it is to make your site accessible. However, the thought of building a robust site that can do all the things you want it to do is overwhelming.

What is Web Accessibility

A practice of designing and coding the website in order to provide complete compatibility in accessing it by people with disabilities. In addition, it is a way to improve search engine optimization only an ADA Compliant Web Designer will help you to make your website Compliant. Is your website compatible? By going through the checklist below, you can get the answer.

Assessing Current Web Pages and Content

  • The website must include a feature like a navigation link at the top of the page. These links have a bypass mechanism such as a “skip navigation” link. This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the web page content. It is beneficial for people who use screen readers to avoid to listen to all the links each time they jump to a new page.
  • All the links should be understandable when taken out of the context. For example, images without alternative text and links without worded as “click here”.
  • All the graphics, maps, images, and other non-text content must provide text alternatives through the alt attribute, a hidden/visible long description.
  • All the documents posted on the website should available in HTML or another accessible text-based format. It is also applicable to other formats like Portable Document Format (PDF).
  • The online forms on the website should be structured so assistive technology can identify, describe and operate the controls and inputs. By doing this, people with disabilities can review and submit the forms.
  • If the website has online forms, the drop-down list should describe the information instead of displaying a response option. For instance, “Your Age” instead of “18-25”.
  • If the website has data charts and tables, they should be structured so that all data cells are associated with column and row identifiers.
  • All the video files on the website must have audio descriptions (if necessary). This is for the convenience of blind people or for having a visual impairment disability.
  • All the video files on the website must have synchronized captions. People with hearing problems or deaf can access these files conveniently.
  • All the audio files on the website should have synchronized captions to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • All web pages should be designed so that they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font.

About Website Accessibility Policy and Procedures

  • One must have a written policy on website accessibility.
  • The website accessibility policy must be posted on the website at a location where it can be easily found.
  • The procedure should be developed to ensure that content is not added to the website until it has been made accessible.
  • It should be confirmed that the website manager has checked the code and structure of all new web pages before they are posted.
  • While adding the PDFs to the website, these should be accessible. Also, the text-based versions of the documents should be accessible at the same time as PDF versions.
  • Make sure that the in-house and contractor staff has received the information about the website accessibility policy and procedure to confirm the website accessibility.
  • It should be confirmed that in-house and contractor staff has received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of the website.
  • The website should have a specific written plan if it contains inaccessible content. Also, it should include timeframes in place to make all of the existing web content accessible.
  • A complete plan to improve website accessibility should be posted along with invited suggestions for improvement.
  • The homepage should include easily locatable information that includes contact details like telephone number and email address. This is useful for reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessibility services with information.
  • A website should have procedures in place to assure a quick response to the visitors with disabilities who have difficulty in accessing information or services available on the website.
  • Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility. So make sure to ask disability groups representing people to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Testing the website using a product available on the internet is helpful, These tools are of free cost and check the accessibility of a website. They may not identify all accessibility issues and flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, these are, nonetheless, a helpful way to improve website accessibility.

Checklist of Action Items for Improving the Accessibility of a Website

In addition, while considering the above suggestions, the following checklist initially prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agencies provides further guidelines on ways to make websites more accessible for persons with disabilities.

This practical advice, as well as another checklist, are available at:

Satisfying all of these items does not necessarily mean that a website complies with ADA, but it will improve the website’s accessibility and decrease the risk of litigation. Again, an Expert or Web Accessibility Consulting & Services provider should be engaged to conduct a comprehensive review of your website.
Nothing brings you closer to reality than actually facing it. This is the premise of my latest attempt to spread awareness about Web Accessibility.
For better understand, here is a link in which a practical example is shown to make the websites’ user experience better by following the guidelines. Also, it tells the issues affecting various users on the internet with solutions.
You can make your website ADA compliant in an easy way by consulting the professionals, who can do this job effortlessly. Also, you can get a quick website audit from To Be ADA Compliant that offers complete web accessibility consulting & services in California, USA.

Resource: https://dev.to/chinchang/an-interactive-and-practical-introduction-to-web-accessibility-22o1