In our previous post we provided you with some context about what is going on with ADA rules and how they have affected small, medium and large businesses. Here, we'll tell you more about WCAG rules and what they mean.
As we stated in our Path to Website Accessibility post, courts are relying on WCAG 2.0 rules when it comes to website accessibility and whether it violates Title III, more specifically on WCAG 2.0, AA Conformance. WCAG 2.0 outlines four principles for website accessible design:
- Perceivable: users must be able to perceive the information being presented
- Operable: users must be able to operate the interface
- Understandable: users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface
- Robust: users must be able to access the content as technologies advance
There are several levels of conformance within WCAG 2.0:
- Level A (WCAG 2.0 A), the minimum level of conformance
- Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA), the level generally relied on by the DoJ and the courts
- Level AAA (WCAG 2.0 AAA), the maximum level of conformance followed by government institutions and business dealing with the government
Once you have diagnosed your website and pinpointed your level of compliance, you will need to make sure that:
- All components of you website are included and compliant
- Test, test and test
- If you reallywant to For more information on the five requirements for WCAG 2.0 conformance, see W3C’s WCAG’s Success Criteria, which are designed to allow online content to be tested to determine whether it satisfies the requisite criteria for a conformance level. Testing should involve a combination of automated testing and human evaluation.
In June 2018, the W3C released WCAG 2.1, which caused further confusion for businesses trying to decide what standard to follow. However, the DoJ’s September 25, 2018 statement confirmed that the important decision for businesses is not whether to comply with a certain set of guidelines, but whether a disabled person can access the company’s goods, services, and benefits through its website.
What 2019 Brings
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for website accessibility compliance implementing fixes and remediation can be cost-prohibitive for some companies. A lot of businesses have opted to wait and see what happens, but a lot of other companies have seeked to minimize litigation risk by ensuring the company’s full compliance with WCAG 2.1 (or 2.0), or at least work toward that goal. In addition to working toward website compliance, some businesses have also chosen to demonstrate accessibility by providing a 24/7 phone number to provide the kind of information otherwise available on their websites.
ADA website accessibility lawsuits won't stop in 2019... Therefore, businesses should take proactive steps toward making their websites accessible.
Finally, while case law may offer some clarification to Title III’s requirements, the U.S. Supreme Court has not indicated that it intends to take up the Circuit Courts of Appeals’ split any time soon. So, if you have business that operates a website and conducts business across multiple states, you may want to further compare your website accessibility with both agency and judicial guidelines discussed above to further evaluate risk.