Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited in all areas of public life – think restaurants, hotels, pools, etc. In the last couple of years, there has been some confusion and debate over what this means for small business’ websites.
Laws Dictating Accessibility
Whenever talk turns to federal regulations and small business, people tend to get nervous. The spirit of the ADA, however, is simply designed to ensure that businesses make their services available to all types of customers – disability or not. It’s the same principle as having proper door handles or a wheelchair accessible entrance. When the laws dictating online accessibility were written, they weren’t exactly designed with future technologies in mind. Because computers and smartphones will only continue to play a huge role in everyone’s daily life, the Government is working to define how exactly these laws affect websites.
From 2010 to 2017, the Federal Government released a series of website guidelines for small businesses to follow. Then, in January 2017, the agency that manages ADA compliance released a comprehensive list of regulations that small business would be required to follow starting in the beginning of 2018. The Department of Justice, however, announced they were withdrawing and reviewing these regulations a couple of months before they were supposed to take effect – leaving website owners in a regulatory limbo. This back-and-forth has been hard to follow, and it can get confusing to determine just what you need to do to follow the law. And to be very honest, that’s still kind of up in the air right now.
So, if you’re a government agency or a private employer with 15 or more employees, you need to be ADA compliant. Ensuring that your your business’s website meets ADA regulations can be a daunting task, especially when the requirements to do so aren’t all that clear. Here’s our recommendation – whether you’re required to by law or not, by following all website regulations under Level AA, you help create a fairer online space for all users. Furthermore, it helps you to avoid any chance of a burdensome lawsuit.