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Web Accessibility Laws & Regulation
While web accessibility laws and regulations may not be at the forefront of your mind, it is important to know that there are some very real risks associated with noncompliance. The web has given people with disabilities more access than ever before, and if you choose to ignore web accessibility laws then you risk having a lawsuit filed against you for discrimination. This page will cover what web accessibility laws entail, why they matter so much, and how EqualWeb can help businesses, organizations, and government agencies comply with web accessibility requirements, without any hassle.
What does it mean to have your website accessible?
Just like existing laws require handicapped parking lots adjacent to stores, rails to access government buildings or driveways leading into businesses like banks, gas stations, etc., so are accessible websites for the disabled required.
Online accessibility mostly caters to the visually or auditory impaired, but there are other needs that require accommodation as well.
Currently, there is a stream of regulations or testable standards that require compliance of websites: ADA, WCAG, Section 508, AODA, EN 301549, EAA, IS 5568, and more.
As long as your website is not fully compliant, your business faces litigation risks.
U.S. laws make it very difficult for businesses and organizations to defend against disability-related non-discriminatory lawsuits.
Under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prior warning or dialogue with the non-compliant business is not required.
Moreover, actual harm or demonstration of inaccessibility to a disabled person is not a prerequisite to filing a suit. As most websites are not compliant, and only a click away from anyone in the world, the Internet has virtually turned into the Wild Wild West of litigation.
And if that wasn’t enough, ADA legislation permits plaintiffs who win in court to recover their attorney’s fees while nullifying this right from prevailing defendants. This only increases the incentive to file lawsuits and pushes businesses toward early settlements outside the court in order to mitigate financial damages.
Being unaware of the law, displaying good faith, or even fixing the accessibility issue under contention is not sufficient to defend against an ADA violation. Target paid $6 million in 2008 to settle a class-action suit against its commercial website, and an additional $4 million to its own legal defense and plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.
Small and midsize businesses are not likely to face these kinds of figures, but even several thousand can have a detrimental effect on the business’s future.
Government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as recipient organizations and institutions of federal funds such as universities and colleges, associations, and voluntary organizations, are required to comply with Web accessibility standards.
How likely are you to get hit by a disability-related claim?
In 2020, ADA federal lawsuits passed the 11,000 mark nationwide. That’s more than 30 cases per day. And pre-litigation demand letters, resulting in private settlements, are estimated to be much higher.
After hovering under the radar for the most part of the last two decades, Web accessibility-related lawsuits exploded since 2017—following the Department of Justice’s labeling of websites as places of “public accommodations,” requiring ADA compliance—bringing the inaccessible virtual world into the forefront of the legal system.
Who is liable?
In spite of regulation ambiguity, the simple answer is: everyone.
The vast majority of websites are not fully compliant, putting them at major legal risk. Furthermore, achieving full compliance can be a tedious task, modifying website codes while costing a fortune (up to tens of thousands of dollars).
The good news, however, is that EqualWeb provides easy, automatic, and cost-effective solutions to all business sizes, with its state-of-the-art technology, compliance experts, and various plans tailored for each need.
Web accessibility compliance
Let us make it rather simple for you. There are many compliance requirements that stem from different laws and regulations, but they all boil down to conformance against WCAG standards.
Today, WCAG 2.0 Level AA will meet most regulatory non-discriminatory compliance standards. But statutory rule makers are bound to update compliance demands some time in the future—as past legislation has demonstrated—which is why EqualWeb transforms your digital assets to the most up-to-date WCAG 2.1 Level AA criteria, facilitating a seamless operation inclusive for all, opening the Internet to those who were left behind.
Read about government web accessibility standards, and relevant legislation, in different countries:
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