ADA Compliance for Websites - A Complete Guide

Posted In - ADA
August 10, 2020
Website Accessibility Compliance
Website Accessibility Compliance

 

 

What is Online ADA Compliance?

 

Nearly 15% of the world's population or upwards of one billion people have some type of disability which hinders them from performing certain normal day-to-day functions. If you want every internet user to be able to utilize your website, then you need to make sure that your website and all other consumer-facing technologies (mobile apps, digital kiosks, etc.) are compliant with the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act. 

 

Did you know the pizza giant Domino’s Pizza was sued by a blind man? In Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, the blind patron and plaintiff, Robles was not able to order food on the Domino’s website and app despite having screen-reading software. Robles claimed that Domino’s thereby discriminated against individuals with disabilities such as his and thereby failed to fulfill adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The case was further taken to the US Supreme Court, and unsurprisingly Dominos was not able to prevail, setting case law precedence for the definition of online accessibility standards.

 

How does the ADA affect your business?

 

In September 2010, the Department of Justice published the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Standards for Accessible Design (https://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm), and has subsequently drafted multiple articles that further define rules for ensuring physical facility compliance with The Law and additional measures that define that every electronic and information technology (such as website and applications) must be accessible to a person with mobility, audio and/or visual disability or impairment. 

 

This landmark civil rights act has improved the lives of millions of Americans by establishing a set of rules and guidelines for businesses and organizations to follow which establish standards that assure services and facilities are designed to ensure enjoyment by all. 

 

You can find the detailed ADA Titles and their rules directly from the Department of Justice’s website, here: https://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm

 

What is Online ADA Compliance

 

What Are The ADA Requirements and How Do They Apply to Your Business?

 

Now that you know what ADA Compliance entails, you must be wondering how it applies to your business.

 

What Are The ADA Requirements and How Do They Apply to Your Business

 

Institutions that fall under Titles I and II of ADA:

 

1) State and local government agencies

2) Private employers with 15 or more employees

3) Businesses that run for the benefit of the public

 

Businesses that fall under Title III Regulations of ADA:

 

Public accommodations like hotels, banks, and public transportation are required to comply with The ADA.

 

Physical Compliance: The above ADA Regulations apply to a variety of considerations ranging from physical compliance measures to digital accommodations.  The ADA guidelines establish a variety of rules that govern the design of physical facilities and spaces to ensure accessibility.  Many of these rules can be reviewed in this easy to follow checklist provided by the Department of Justice: https://www.ada.gov/hsurvey.htm

 

Digital Compliance: Specifically, there is a section of the code that applies to hotels and places of accommodation and their online functions.  These rules are stipulated in Section 36.302e of 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.

 

The Grey Area: Online Web Accessibility

 

The Robles v. Domino’s case and a variety of others that have been filed and adjudicated in lower courts have been pressing the establishment of more comprehensive rules regarding online accessibility, especially for individuals who may have an audio or visual impairment, for ALL types of technologies and organizations.  While the ADA stipulates certain rules such as those defined in Section 36.302e, particularly for public accommodations, as shown above, it does not go far enough to determine what standards are to be met for organizations and their technologies to be considered accessible online.  So there have been many cases that have worked to define this grey area with established precedence in case law.  The widely accepted standards that the courts are establishing rely upon the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Website Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG, and specifically their most widely adopted standard of Version 2.1 Level AA conformity.  The WCAG is a set of standards defined for the Internet to make the web more accessible.

 

So it is imperative to understand that The Law or ADA is black and white and relies on Section 36.302e to define its online requirements specifically for the lodging industry, however, case law is establishing the guidelines to ensure that all websites and other technologies are coded in a way where they are accessible.  There has been a push to have the Department of Justice roll out defined articles for online accessibility compliance, but such efforts have stalled, and many courts are relying on the common industry standards defined by W3C’s WCAG as the rules which establish online accessibility.

 

Essentially there are two elements to ensuring your website and other technologies are defined as accessible: your technologies need to adhere to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act AND be coded to the Website Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) Standards that case law has set by precedence as the standard for what it means to be accessible online.

 

Advantages of An ADA Compliant and Accessible Website

 

Let’s discuss some of the important advantages of ensuring that your website is ADA Compliant and Accessible:

 

1) You Can Avoid Legal Liability

 

You Can Avoid Legal Liability

 

A study shows, in 2018, there was a 200% rise in lawsuits targeting mobile apps and websites for their alleged non-compliance with ADA.  There are serial litigants who specifically target businesses that do not adhere to the ADA and common law precedence that defines WCAG 2.1 conformity as an accessibility standard.

 

You can prevent penalties and ADA or accessibility lawsuits if you ensure you are following the 5 points of Section 36.302e of Title III and take into consideration web accessibility while designing and coding your website. An ADA compliant website that is coded to WCAG 2.1 standards should be a top priority and considered the base of any website launch plan. 

 

Every business with a website should hire an accessibility specialist who is trained in the application of WCAG guidelines and has an understanding of accessibility laws and guidelines from all countries. You can contact INNsight to find out if your website is ADA compliant and conforms to website accessibility standards.  INNsight is the leader in online ADA compliance and website accessibility.  Learn more about our efforts to define online accessibility standards for the hospitality industry by visiting ADA Shield.

 

2) Increases Your Target Audience

 

Increases Your Target Audience

 

If your business website is not already ADA compliant and web-accessible, you are clearly missing out on a large number of potential customers who cannot access your website owing to their disabilities. 

 

There are nearly 50 million people with disabilities in the U.S, which means nearly 19 percent of the country’s population has a disability. Hence, it is a good idea to have a website that does not exclude this large section of the population and ensures that they are entitled to equal services as offered to the general population. It is quite possible that many of them might be interested in your services or products, but once they come to your website, they won’t be able to navigate it and be able to make a purchase or even contact you, solely because your website is not accessible to them or functional using their assistive technologies. Thus, this may lead them to your competitors who do cater to their accessibility requirements.

 

Therefore, it is crucial to ensure your website is fully accessible so that people with limitations can also use it. This will certainly work in your business’s favor as it will encourage disabled individuals to become your customers.

 

3) Improves Your SEO Efforts

 

Improves Your SEO Efforts

 

Having an accessible website improves your overall SEO strategy since enhancing the usability and functionality of your website helps Google crawl your website better, which results in your website being awarded higher organic search rankings. 

 

Certain elements like adding text to images, providing text and audio descriptions for videos, transcribing audio files, adding captions to videos, having keyword-relevant links and header titles, descriptive H1s, and more can all benefit your search optimization effort while also satisfying Website Content Accessibility Guideline standards.  

 

4) Helps Your Reputation

 

Helps Your Reputation

 

If your website is ADA compliant and coded to be accessible, it shows that your business cares about its customers. Having an ADA compliant and accessible website for your hotel business will also get you a good amount of positive press that can help build your reputation. 

 

Having an ADA compliant website is a great way to create a difference between your business and your competitors. Your target audience might have searched for hotels in your city, and visited many hotel websites that were not ADA compliant. They may have bounced from those websites with disappointment and discovered that yours satisfies their requirements and thereby leading to a booking and higher conversion. 

 

Your ADA compliant and accessible website will also receive good word-of-mouth recommendations from these visitors.  Your efforts to make your website inclusive for all will be appreciated by people all over. 

 

5) Leads to Overall Better Website Usability

 

Leads to Overall Better Website Usability

 

There are around 50 million people with disabilities in the United States. It does not make good business sense to make the mistake of keeping your hotel website inaccessible to so many potential customers. It is your responsibility to make sure that every visitor to your website feels welcomed and valued.

 

Making a website ADA compliant and web-accessible not only helps in providing equal opportunity for all but also improves the overall quality and usability of your website. Having a website that follows Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will make it easier to navigate for everyone, whether they are disabled or not. It is a win-win for all of your website visitors!

 

What Happens if Your Website is NOT ADA Compliant?

 

What Happens if Your Website is NOT ADA Compliant

 

In 1990, when ADA became law, the internet and other modern technologies were still in its infancy. However, the past few decades have seen the rise of rich media websites and mobile apps and the need to establish standards for coding which allow for the accessibility of this content for individuals who face audio, visual, or mobility impairments.  With case law defining the standard of what it means to be accessible online as the Level 2 conformity of the W3C’s Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, it is highly important to code your website to these exact specifications.

 

Having an ADA compliant and accessible website not only helps provide a better user experience but also acts as a game-changer for people with disabilities and mobility issues. WCAG 2.1 has designated 3 levels of conformance with grade A being the lowest and grade AAA being the highest.

 

Major businesses such as H&R Block, Foot Locker, and Brooks Brothers have been sued and fined for not having ADA compliant websites and technology. You do not want to be the next one in line. A simple task of making your website inclusive will help in saving you loads of money in terms of legal costs and fines and also protect your reputation, all while offering inclusive technology that offers better usability for all, and drives higher conversion. 

 

How Can You Make Your Website ADA Compliant and Accessible?

 

Making an ADA compliant website requires sound knowledge of ADA Title III, understanding of recent case law examples that define online web accessibility requirements, and technical knowledge and coding ability.  In addition to adhering to ‘The Five Points’ of ADA Title III, you will have to follow the guidelines defined in WCAG 2.1 and code your entire website to satisfy these criteria.  The World Wide Web Consortium’s Website Content Accessibility Guidelines can be found here: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/

 

WCAG 2.1 is the technical standard featuring 13 guidelines under five categories:

 

Following the drafted set of guidelines by WCAG will ensure that your website meets web accessibility standards and is consumable by individuals who require screen readers and other assistive software to parse and use your website.

 

A) Perceivable

 

This section helps website owners ensure that all individuals can perceive the media on their website. The content and information available on the website should be presentable to the end-user.

 

1. Text Alternatives

The visitor should be able to see all of the content on the website. Most of the time, the disabled person finds it difficult to understand the non-text content like images. So, content producers should provide text alternatives in the form of large print, braille, speech, symbols, or more straightforward language.

 

Success criteria to test the Text Alternatives Measure of your website:

 

  • Controls, Input
  • Time-Based Media
  • Test
  • Sensory
  • CAPTCHA
  • Decoration, Formatting, Invisible

 

2. Time-Based Media

 

This section of requirements denotes that the audio and video content should be accessible to the user. Alternatives for time-based media that are text-based may help some people who have difficulty understanding the meaning of prerecorded video content. 

 

Success criteria to test the Time-based Media Measure of your website:

 

  • Prerecorded Audio-only
  • Prerecorded Video-only
  • Captions
  • Audio Description or Media Alternative
  • Sign Language

 

3. Adaptable

 

The website creator should create content that can be presented in multiple ways. Make sure to use a simple layout without losing the information or structure.

 

Success criteria to test the Adaptable Measures of your website:

 

  • Information and Relationships
  • Meaningful Sequence
  • Sensory Characteristics
  • Orientation
  • Identify Purpose

 

4. Distinguishable

 

The user should easily see and hear content, including separating the foreground from the background.

 

Success criteria to test the Distinguishable Measure of your website:

 

  • Use of Color
  • Audio Control
  • Contrast (Minimum & Enhanced)
  • Resize text
  • Images of Text
  • Low or No Background Audio, and many more

 

B) Operable

 

This category of rules focuses on ensuring that the functionality of the website should be easy and straightforward and usability should not be hindered.

 

5. Keyboard Accessible

 

If the user finds it difficult to use a mouse, then make sure all functionality is available from the keyboard.

 

Success criteria to test the Keyboard Accessible Measures of your website:

 

  • Keyboard
  • No Keyboard Trap
  • Keyboard (No Exception)
  • Character Key Shortcuts

 

6. Enough Time

 

The users should have enough time to read and use the content on the website.

Success criteria to test the Enough Time Measures of your website:

 

  • Timing Adjustable
  • Pause, Stop, Hide
  • No Timing
  • Interruptions
  • Re-authenticating
  • Time outs 

 

7. Seizures and Physical Reactions

 

You never want the user of your website to have a sudden, uncontrolled disturbance in their brain. Your website should not cause any seizure or physical reactions to the visitor.

 

Success criteria to test the Seizures and Physical Reactions Measures of your website:

 

  • Three Flashes or Below Threshold
  • Three Flashes
  • Animation from Interactions 

 

8. Navigable

 

Users should quickly find the required actions and be able to perform them with ease on the website. The website layout should be designed in such a way that it assists users in finding useful content. The user should be quickly aware of the place where they are on the web page.

 

Success criteria to test the Navigable Measure of your website:

 

  • Bypass Blocks
  • Page Titles
  • Focus Order
  • Link Purpose (In Context)
  • Multiple Ways
  • Headings and Labels
  • Focus Visible
  • Location
  • Section Headings   

 

9. Input Modalities

 

This is the newly added section in the website accessibility compliance guidelines as it was not present in WCAG version 2.0.

Input Modalities simply asks the website owner to make it easier for users to operate functionality through various inputs beyond the keyboard.

 

Success criteria to test the Input Modalities Measure of your website:

  • Pointer Gestures
  • Pointer Cancellation
  • Label in Name
  • Motion Actuation
  • Target Size
  • Concurrent Input Mechanisms 

 

C) Understandable

 

This category says that the website should feature logical functionality and language. 

 

Simply saying information and the operation of user interface must be easily understandable to the visitor. 

 

  • Language of Page
  • Language of Parts
  • Unusual Words
  • Abbreviations
  • Reading Level
  • Pronunciation 

10. Predictable

 

The web design and content of the website plays a significant role in user experience. It is necessary to create such operable web pages that can help users predict the course of action.

 

Success criteria to test the Predictable Measures of your website:

  • On Focus
  • On Input
  • Consistent Navigation
  • Consistent Navigation
  • Change on Request

 

11. Input Assistance

 

Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

 

Success criteria to test the Input Assistance Measures of your website:

 

  • Error Identification
  • Labels or Instructions
  • Error Suggestion
  • Error Prevention (Legal, Financial, Data)
  • Help
  • Error Prevention (All)

 

D) Robust

 

The efforts of creating a website can go in vain if the content is not robust enough to be interpreted by the user. So, it is essential to form the material and web page so that diverse audiences, including those using assistive technologies, can understand it.

 

12. Compatible

 

The user agent should be able to retrieve, render, and facilitate end-user interaction with Web content. It is advisable to put effort towards increasing the compatibility of websites with the user agents and their technologies.

 

Success criteria to test the Compatible Measures of your website:

 

  • Parsing
  • Name, Role, Value
  • Status Messages

 

E) Conformance

 

This segment records prerequisites for conformance to WCAG 2.1. It additionally provides data about how to make conformance claims. It signifies what is required to be accessible. To have a good knowledge about conformance, it is imperative to carefully understand the below concepts.

 

13. Interpreting Normative Requirements

 

The principle of WCAG 2.1 is standardizing and characterizes necessities that sway conformance claims. The non-regularizing article gives warning data to help decipher the rules; however, it doesn't make prerequisites that sway a conformance guarantee. 

 

The key words MAY, MUST, MUST NOT, NOT RECOMMENDED, RECOMMENDED, SHOULD, and SHOULD NOT are to be interpreted as described here.

 

14. Conformance Requirements

 

Success criteria to test the Conformance Requirements Measures of your website:

  • Conformance Level
  • Full pages
  • Complete processes
  • Only Accessibility-Supported Ways of Using Technologies
  • Non-Interference

 

15. Conformance Claims

 

Conformance is determined on the pages on the website. In this claim, one can cover web pages or multiple related web pages.

 

Success criteria to test the Conformance Requirements Measures of your website:

 

  • Required Components of a Conformance Claim
  • Optional Components of a Conformance Claim

 

16. Statement of Partial Conformance - Third Party Content

 

At times, web pages contain additional content that is included in them, particularly served up by third-parties. For instance, an email program, a blog, an article that permits users to include remarks, or applications supporting user-contributed content. Another model would be a page, for example, a news site, made out of substance collected from various benefactors, or locales that naturally embed content from different sources.

 

17. Statement of Partial Conformance - Language

 

This might be made when the page doesn't adjust. Yet, it would alter if availability support existed for (the entirety of) the language(s) utilized on the page. The type of that announcement would be, "This page doesn't adjust, however, would adjust to WCAG 2.1 at level X if availability support existed for the accompanying language(s):"

 

For a better understanding of the success criteria of the above guidelines visit WCAG 2.1 Guidelines published by The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
 

 

Do You Need Help Making Your Website ADA Compliant and Fully Accessible?

 

If you want to ensure your website is ADA compliant and conforms to WCAG standards, INNsight can help! With over a decade of experience, we can humbly say that we have truly mastered the art of perfecting design and software to meet regulations. 

 

INNsight has built the latest and greatest technologies to make sure your hotel's website is accessible to individuals with audio and visual impairment. The ADA Tray® is a widget that works with your website's existing code to increase compliance with ADA Title III, WCAG 2.1, and Section 508 web accessibility requirements. 

 

Additionally, INNsight has tested the legal merits of its technology by defending against a claim from the very law firm that took Domino’s Pizza to The Supreme Court.  Websites Powered by INNsight are built on a framework that is The Gold Standard of Online ADA Compliance.  To learn more, visit www.ADAshield.com


ADA Title III Compliant and Web Accessibility Defining Product

 

Our ADA Title III Compliant and Web Accessibility Defining Product Features Include:

 

1. Patent-Pending Innovation: INNsight is all about innovation. We have a patent-pending with the USPTO on ADA Tray® and its invention.

2. Configurability: With the use of a real-time configuration panel, you can enable or disable any of the features available in The ADA Tray®

3. Efficient and Private User Data Tracking: You can easily track how many users utilized the widget and which features they most deployed.

4. Evergreen Technology: INNsight continuously works to develop its tools and aims to satisfy the most stringent regulations for online accessibility.  We not only upgrade your website to conform to the latest standards but in many ways, INNsight has been defining the very standards.

5. WCAG 2.1 Conforming Website Design for Free: Websites Powered by INNsight are coded to web accessibility standards out of the box.

6. ADA Title III Content Management: Websites Powered by INNsight are driven by a powerful Content Management System (CMS) that provides the ability to easily display your property level, guest room level, and bathroom level accessibility features with ease on your website. 

7. Dedicated ADA Accessibility Feature Web Page: INNsight has designed a custom dedicated webpage for your website which satisfies content conditions of ADA Title III to demonstrate all of your property’s accessibility features.

8. Bookability of ADA Accessible Guest Rooms: Satisfy the Five Points of ADA Title III Section 36.302e’s online reservation requirements with INNsight’s WCAG 2.1 conforming booking engine.

 

With our ADA compliance services, we can guarantee your website will meet ADA Title III Compliance and Conform to Website Content Accessibility Guidelines Level AA Version 2.1. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us at +1 (408) 508-4667 or accessibility@innsight.com TODAY!
 

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