Q. What is the ADA?The Americans with Disabilities Act, also known simply as ADA, is a landmark civil rights act that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The final version of the ADA Law was signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and has had several amendments. The Americans with Disabilities Act has its provisions divided into five titles. Title III prohibits the discrimination on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, or accommodation at any place of public accommodation, which constitutes most places of lodging such as hotels, restaurants and a variety of other facilities.
Q. How does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impact my hotel's website?Hoteliers must comply with most current ADA regulations, called the 2010 ADA Title III Regulations, which have been in effect since March 15, 2012. Section 36.302e of the 2010 Regulations specify five points that a place of lodging must adhere to with respect to reservations 'made by telephone, in-person, website or through a third party'. These 'Five Points' revolve around online hotel content about accessibility features and inventory availability for the disabled.
Q. What are the 'Five Points' of ADA Title III?
REQUIREMENTS UNDER 2010 ADA TITLE III, entail the following:
An owner, lessor, lessee, or operator (hereinafter referred to as 'owner and operator') of a place of lodging must, with respect to reservations 'made by telephone, in-person, website or through a third party':
(i) Modify its policies, practices, or procedures to ensure that individuals with disabilities can make reservations for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner as individuals who do not need accessible rooms;
(ii) Identify and describe accessible features of the place of lodging and guest rooms offered through its reservations system in enough detail to reasonably permit individuals with disabilities to assess independently whether a given place of lodging or guest room meets his/her accessibility needs;
(iii) Ensure that accessible guest rooms are held for use by individuals with disabilities until all other guest rooms of that type have been rented and the accessible room requested is the only remaining room of that type;
(iv) Reserve, upon request, accessible guest rooms or specific types of guest rooms and ensure that the guest rooms requested are blocked and removed from all reservations systems; and
(v) Guarantee that the specific accessible guest room reserved through its reservations system is held for the reserving guest, regardless of whether a specific room is held in response to reservations made by others.
Q. How do I get my hotel's website to be accessible to the disabled?To protect your hotel from any liability, you need to audit all of your hotel’s online content, not limited to your hotel’s website but also content displayed on OTAs and franchise sites, if applicable, to ensure that you clearly and comprehensively identify and explain all of your disability accessible and non-accessible features at the property and guest room level. The content should be wordsmithed to ensure that it is not discriminatory and provides a clear explanation of all property specific ADA compliant or accessible features, room details including accessible bathroom features, and on-site equipment for the disabled so an individual with a disability can independently assess whether your place of lodging or guest rooms meet his or her accessibility needs.
You must ensure that all individuals with disabilities must be able to reserve accessible guest rooms with the same efficiency, immediacy, and convenience as guests with no disabilities. Your system must allow for the research of accessible rooms, booking of accessible rooms and be agnostic to a person with disabilities in the bookability of accessible guest rooms. Also, if you use 3rd party reservations services, you need to make a reasonable effort to make accessible rooms available through these channels.
This is just part of the equation. It is also becoming more and more important that your website itself adheres to the widely accepted Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Safe to say, its best that you leave ADA Title III compliance and conformity to Web Accessibility Standards to the professionals and subject matter experts at INNsight.
Q. What do I do if I have been sued for my hotel's website not being accessible?If you have been summoned, it is important to retain the most qualified attorney who is not only versed in the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also understands technology and intellectual property law. Contact us and we can refer you to the best attorneys to help defend you against any potential online ADA litigation. In addition to having an adept attorney, we recommend having Subject Matter Experts like INNsight by your side. We can help determine your defensibility or if the claims against your website are frivolous in nature based on our audit of your technologies.
Q. How do I know if my hotel's website is compliant with the ADA Law?There is some grey area insofar as what is considered compliant and there is no official declaration or certification offered by the Department of Justice. We are, however, confident a website Powered by INNsight with our proprietary technologies, appropriate content management, and inventory management driven by INNsight's booking engine layered on with the ADA Tray® widget constitutes The Gold Standard in Hotel Online Accessibility. If you don't have a website Powered by INNsight, there are likely some gaps in adherence to 'The Five Points' of ADA Title III creating gaps in your defenses. We are happy to provide a complimentary website audit or demonstrate the capabilities of INNsight to not only help you achieve online ADA compliance but to also drive more direct bookings.
Q. What are the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of design principles and technical guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet. These recommended guidelines offer success criteria along 61 points that are intended to make web content more accessible around the four principles of making the web more Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. You can learn more here: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
Q. What is a 'Click-By' Lawsuit?A 'Click-By' lawsuit is the term, CEO of INNsight, Raj Patel, has coined to explain the new trend that serial plaintiffs have employed to prey on hotels with a focus on errors and omissions in meeting ADA reporting requirements on hotels’ websites. Like their real-world 'drive-by' counterparts, the mission of the plaintiffs is to frighten hotel owners into profitable settlements. These lawsuits have gotten templatized and many serial plaintiff attorneys are sloppy in their filings almost resulting in ludicrous lawsuits where there are non-sensical claims. Other tactics may include a level of sophistication where a serial plaintiff may attack the web accessibility standards of your website. Learn more by reading this article: https://www.asianhospitality.com/click-lawsuits-work-loopholes-americans-disabilities-act/
What is the difference between Online ADA Compliance and Web Accessibility?Online ADA Compliance refers to complying with Section 36.302e of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act which was signed into law in 2010 and went into effect March of 2012: https://www.ada.gov/ada_title_III.htm
Web Accessibility refers to the practice of ensuring that there are no barriers that prevent the interaction with or access to websites on the World Wide Web by individuals with disabilities. This means websites, software tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that individuals with disabilities can use them because they are created to be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust in their design. Your website is considered 'accessible' if it meets Level AA success criteria across the 61 points of the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 according to Case Law.
Q. Is there a certification for Web Accessibility?There is no official certification according to the governing body, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which developed the Web Accessibility Initiative to publish the technical specifications and guidelines to create international standards for the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG. Despite no official certification of conformity to WCAG, it is important that your website conforms to these widely recognized guidelines so it can be consumed by screen readers and other assistive technologies with ease. There are numerous online tools that can validate adherence to the WCAG and demonstrate any website coding errors that may exist.
Q. What is ADA Shield?INNsight, The Subject Matter Expert in Online ADA Compliance and Web Accessibility for hotels, has pioneered a revolutionary program called ADA Shield™ to help achieve the highest standard of online accessibility for individuals with disabilities while protecting hospitality business owners from legal exposure to ‘click-by’ lawsuits.