When one thinks of ADA accessibility, sidewalk ramps, disabled parking spaces, and wheel chair access immediately comes to mind. What about websites?

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets standards for accessibility for people with disabilities to all commercial and public entities that have “places of public accommodation”. In 2010, the Department of Justice proposed that the definition of places of public accommodation could include the internet, and hence, websites of commercial and public entities.

What does it mean to have an accessible website?

Many visually impaired people rely on screen readers to keep up with email, searches, browse websites, and lead a normal life in a time when computer screens are the primary form of information flow. The screen readers literally read text from the website out loudly. However, they cannot read text in a graphic image. Text in hidden tags ‘trip up’ the screen readers, as do links that open in new windows.

Many blind people have their keypad memorized, but cannot use a mouse, as they cannot visually locate the cursor on the screen. Therefore, they tab from field to field. What sighted readers find second nature, such as filling in fields, can be frustrating for a blind person relying on a screen reader when there are no tags associated with the fields. (It is not uncommon for a blind user to hear “edit, edit, edit, radio button not checked, submit button” as they tab across the fields to be filled in)

PDFs are a major problem for compliance. Many credit unions have downloadable PDFs for disclosures or promotions, and most of these are not readable by assistive technology. Consider replacing these documents with html versions.

Remember that hearing-impaired members may also be accessing your site. The main problem for them is viewing one of your promotional or “how-to” videos. Unless there are subtitles, they may not be able to follow the content.

What has changed recently to make this such a huge issue?

In a landmark case in June 2017 in Florida, Winn Dixie (grocery store) was found to have violated Title III of the ADA by having a website that was not useable by the plaintiff. This case set the precedent that non-exempt business (more than 15 employees) must provide an accessible website, as defined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA. Possibly more important, is that it set the precedent of awarding attorneys’ fees and costs to the plaintiff. This opened the door to a new cottage industry of “predatory plaintiffs”, who are testing websites for compliance issues and taking legal action against companies.

With the legal precedent set, between June of 2017 and the end of that year, lawsuits were filed against Foot Locker, Brooks Brothers, most major universities, and nearly every hotel website. Since then, many other consumer-facing website owners have been sued, and credit unions have not escaped notice. CUNA was tracking three dozen active cases in February 2018. One of those cases, a lawsuit brought against Local 20 IBEW FCU of Grand Prairie, Texas was dismissed as frivolous. In December of 2017, the DOJ rescinded it’s 2017 proposed rule-making related to website accessibility. Unfortunately, this action did not put an end to the many lawsuits. The problem is that it costs little for plaintiffs and their lawyers to file the lawsuits, with plenty of upside in the case of settlement or possible court win. However, it costs the credit union lost time, legal fees, and if the case is not dismissed, court ordered website upgrades in a very short period of time, in addition to the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees plus damages.

What can credit unions do to keep out of the cross-hairs?

There certainly are legitimate lawsuits where people with disabilities fight for their right to access. But in the case of website accessibility, in too many cases it is merely a “shakedown”. In some of the lawsuits brought against credit unions, the plaintiff would not qualify in that credit union’s FOM. But it still requires legal fees to fight the case and have it dismissed. There are steps credit unions can (and should!) take to prevent this from happening.

In a significant court case, Domino’s Pizza was sued but had the case dismissed. The reason: even though the website was not fully ADA compliant, it did have an 1800 number which was readable by the screen reader, which gave the web user access to all of the information and capabilities available on the website. This has become known as the “Domino’s Disclosure”. A quick and simple defensive measure is to be sure that every page on the website has a phone number published in e-reader format.

The end game is to have the website meet all 61 guidelines laid out in WCAG 2.0 to either at the AA or AAA level! If the credit union uses in-house staff for its website design, then it is best to outsource ADA compliance testing to any one of the number of specialists. If the website is outsourced, go back to the vendor, and ensure that the website meets WCAG 2.0 AA standards, and get the response in writing. When negotiating with a new website vendor, negotiate language in the contract that indemnifies your credit union should it become liable for damages.

In addition to reviewing your website, also review your liability coverage to ensure you have sufficient levels of insurance should you be the victim of a lawsuit.

One important thing to keep in mind: every time the website is updated with new ads or new content, compliance must be re-tested. There are also in-house testing tools, which may not work as well as a company that specializes in this area but would show the court intent to be compliant, and may get the case dropped … “may”.

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