ADA Compliance and Website Accessibility – What’s the Big Deal?
You may have noticed the recent buzz surrounding ADA and Fair Housing Act (FHA) violations as it relates to website accessibility requirements. Law firms in Florida, California, Colorado and Massachusetts have been targeting insurance agency websites for ADA or FHA violations. Different law groups will send demand letters looking for quick financial compensation for the allegation that the website is not meeting federal accessibility guidelines.
These lawsuits are not new. The plaintiff’s attorneys have been sending demand letters for years.
In the past couple years, insurance agency websites have been brought into the mix. The attorneys are looking for a quick settlement outside of a court for violating the ADA or FHA guidelines. An important fact to point out is that zero of these cases have been decided in a court of law and very few turn into a lawsuit. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future; it just means there is no case law surrounding this issue.
So you may be wondering, what is ADA website accessibility? Well, nobody knows as there is no case law and no legislation regarding website accessibility rules and the American’s with Disabilities Act was created before the internet was a thing. All that is known is that the ADA applies to websites.
While there are no clear accessibility guidelines, the generally accepted level of care to follow is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG 2.1 is the most recent version to follow. These guidelines have the goal of making web content perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
The issue with WCAG 2.1 is that to be 100% compliant, it likely means to redesign and rewrite an entire website.
The cost associated with redesigning a website to be “ADA compliant” is likely thousands, if not tens of thousands, to meet every WCAG 2.1 requirement. The full WCAG 2.1 guidelines can be found here – it’s only 83 pages long.
While 100% compliance may be difficult, other solutions exist to become up to 95% compliant. Enter the world of Accessibility Widgets. These are text/website overlays that require you to add a short line of code into your website that creates a small button in the corner for web visitors to click on and modify the webpage to meet their needs. With these widgets, you have options. Free, most basic widget, likely not close to 95% compliance. - UserWay Starting at $348/year – Neilson Marketing Services Starting at $490/year - AccessiBe Starting at $490/year – UserWay with AI
Of course, there are many other options out there. These are just a few of the most popular widgets. Regardless of what path or option you decide, you should take action to make your website more accessible to reduce the risk of an ADA demand letter or lawsuit.
Lastly, it is important to note that more than 7 million people in the U.S. are blind or have a visual impairment. Website accessibility is not something to consider merely from a legal standpoint, it is also a customer service for many Americans looking for insurance.