When Was Your Last ADA Compliant Website Test?

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) makes certain website accessibility standards your legal responsibility. If you can’t remember your last ADA compliant website test, you could be at risk of lawsuits like the one Apple is currently facing.

Read on to learn how scheduling a ADA Compliant website test could save your business or franchise being labeled “intentionally discriminatory” like Apple.

Apple Accused of “Intentional Discrimination”

Himelda Mendez identifies himself as a “visually impaired and legally blind person.” To access online content, Mendez relies on screen-reading software, which either reads the information aloud or outputs it to a Braille display.

Based on a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, approximately 8.1 million people in the United States are visually impaired, including 2-million who are blind, and many of them rely on assistive technologies like Mendez.

But Apple’s website wasn’t built to be compatible with that kind of software.

According to the filing, Mendez encountered “multiple access barriers” that prevented him from having “full and equal access to the facilities, goods, and services offered to the public,” such as being able to browse and buy products, book Apple service appointments, and find nearby brick-and-mortar stores.

Mendez provided a long list of problems that Apple’s website needed to address before they were in full compliance with the ADA and WCAG, including:

  • Providing alternative text for graphics;
  • Fixing empty links containing no texts;
  • Removing redundant links;
  • and fixing instances where linked images were missing “alt” (alternative) text.

Though these issue may seem minor, these are the kinds of site design errors that prevent assistive technology from working properly. Mendez alleges that Apple’s website produced garbled messages on his Braille display, which left him unable to navigate the site and perform the same transactions as those with sight.

Further, by violating WCAG 2.0, Apple is accused of engaging in “acts of intentional discrimination” because:

  1. The site was allegedly created without visually impaired users in mind;
  2. The site has not yet been remediated,

Mendez’s suit demands a permanent injunction that would require Apple to retain a WCAG consultant to ensure that no such violations would occur again, as well as the implementation of accessibility compliance training for all web developers. Further, Mendez demands that the site be regularly tested by visually impaired users, and that he be compensated for damages “in an amount to be determined by proof, including all applicable statutory and punitive damages and fines,” including legal fees paid by the filer.

You can read the entire Mendez vs. Apple filing here.

How Can I Conduct an ADA Compliant Website Test?

The truth is that there is no singular “ADA compliant website test.” There are hundreds of free testing tools approval by the World Web Wide Consortium (W3), all of which you can find here.

But these ADA compliant website test tools aren’t enough on their own. And, as the W3 website states, “web accessibility evaluation tools can notdetermine accessibility, they can only assist in doing so.”

So what’s the solution?

“Human judgment is required,” W3 says.

Like the WCAG consultants Mendez demanded, ClickTecs specializes in ADA compliant website tests and remediation. We use a combination of select compliance testing tools and manual review using a 300-item checklist to pinpoint compliance issues, then spring into action with whatever combination of web coding, design, and document remediation may be needed to bring your site up to code.

To conduct your ADA compliant website test, book a free consultation with our team, where we will provide you with a breakdown of the costs and timeline you can expect.

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What is 508 Testing and How Can it Save My Franchise?

We all know that a website is a major asset to any organization, private or public. But did you know your website could also be a major legal liability?

New requirements by the American Disabilities Act (ADA) require all websites to meet certain accessibility standards, like those outlined in Section 508. If your site doesn’t comply, you could be in big trouble.

Today’s post explains exactly what Section 508 demands, as well as how 508 testing can potentially save your franchise!

What is Section 508 Compliance?

Section 508 Compliance is shorthand for a law that specifically requires federal government web assets to be safe and accessible for individuals with disabilities.

The Reauthorized Rehabilitation Act of 1998 was the first to include Section 508, which requires US Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) usable by people with disabilities.

Now websites, microsites, web pages, apps, and any other internet-based tool and service you can think of must be 508 compliant.

In regards to what makes a web asset compliant, the summed up answer is “accessibility.” To detail every point of our 300+ item checklist would be beyond the scope of this article; besides, each web asset must be evaluated individually. But to give you an idea, Section 508 testing and remediation usually focuses on:

  • Adding textual descriptions, such as “alt text,” “longdesc,” and transcription, to all images, videos, image functions, complex graphics (but not decorative graphics), and audio content;
  • Synchronizing captions on video files and live audio broadcasts;
  • Redesigning content and layouts whose meaning relies on color;
  • Changing page design to avoid screen flicker with frequencies greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz;
  • Adding options for users to skip repetitive navigation links;
  • Ensuring all content is compatible with assistive technologies.

What are the Consequences of Non-Compliance?

Nearly 20% of all people are affected by disabilities, according to reports by the Census Bureau. That means web assets that do not comply with Section 508 are effectively barring 1 in 5 users from entry.

Having a web asset that excludes 20% of your potential users is bad enough before you consider how that inaccessibility mischaracterizes your business. Believe it or not, non-compliance is a form of discrimination, not unlike prohibiting wheelchair users from entering your store. It can offend people you had no intention of hurting and really damage your brand.

Further, franchise owners in violation of Section 508 are now being targeted with lawsuits that can result in massive fines.

Does Section 508 Affect Me?

Don’t assume you’re off the hook just because your franchise isn’t part of the federal government.

Though Section 508 is intended to regulate federal web assets, certain business owners and franchisors will be affected. Specifically, any company that does business with a federal agency will be held accountable to these standards.

How Do I Make Sure My Web Asset Complies with Section 508?

To be compliant, the web asset must undergo extensive 508 testing that requires certain software, such as the Accessibility Requirements Tools (ART), along with a trained eye.

Once the problems are found, changes may need to be made to your web architecture, page design, and overall presentation of content. Some document remediation may be required, wherein digital publications are converted into resources that are accessible to individuals with visual and auditory disabilities. For example, videos will need to be subtitled and transcribed to be accessible to everyone. HTML5 will be necessary in order for your site to function with assistive technologies.

For full details on what’s needed, contact us about our Section 508 testing and compliance checklist.

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Preventing Liability and Lawsuits: Building an ADA Compliance Website Checklist

Today’s post is meant to protect your business getting blindsided by “inclusivity” lawsuits, like so many others have been this year.

Read on to learn whether your site is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as how to protect yourself from predatory lawsuits.

ADA Compliance in the Internet Age

The ADA was created to prevent discrimination based on a person’s disability. And like its predecessor, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which focused on race, sex, religion, and national identity, ADA makes any discriminatory behavior punishable by law. In response, public buildings, transportation, schools, and workplaces changed to improve accessibility.

Business websites are also expected to comply with ADA regulations. Not following an ADA compliance website checklist is the virtual equivalent of neglecting to offer handicap parking spaces, wheelchair ramps, and wide doorways.

Unfortunately, a number of franchise owners found that out the hard way.

ADA Liability and Lawsuits Abound in 2018

2017 saw an unprecedented number of website accessibility lawsuits being filed in federal and state courts.

In 2017, plaintiffs filed at least 814 federal lawsuits against the owners of “inaccessible websites” in America. New York and Florida led the charge, with 335 and 325 cases, respectively.

It’s possible that a number of these lawsuits were legitimate cases where discriminatory business owners needed to be rebuked. But many business owners were sucked into legal troubles or vilified as “non-inclusive” just because they weren’t aware of their ADA responsibilities.

Nonetheless, the onus is on you to stay compliant – ignorantialegisneminemexcusat, “ignorance of the law excuses no one.” And the best way to protect yourself is by building an ADA compliance website checklist.

Building an ADA Compliance Website Checklist

The following general guidelines should help you improve your website’s accessibility fast to avoid costly non-compliance suits:

  • Presentation. Make sure your site is easy to manoeuvre, with options to adjust the size or color of text, font, and images. ADA requirements state that “resizability” should be offered up to 200%.
  • Text. Favor big fonts for titles, headings, menus, and banners – when in doubt, bigger is better. Color is also important. Make sure the text and background colors pair in a way that is easy to read. And cut out any underlined text that isn’t a hyperlink – it’s just confusing.
  • Audio, video, and image. The best way to make your media compliant is through captioning. Add texts to your images, and fill in the “alt text” with real description, rather than just racking up another keyword. Video transcripts are also great options.
  • Assistive technology. Set your site up to make assistive technology work better. Use HTML formats where possible, and avoid PDF documents, as these cannot be read by most optical character recognition devices. Make sure your website is navigable by keyboard alone. And look into skip navigation, which allows users to cut past links and headings to go straight to your main content.

These introductory guidelines are by no means exhaustive; this post is the tiniest tip of the iceberg, meant to get you familiar with the kinds of changes that you’ll be making this year. And here’s the hard truth: no blog post will ever be enough. If you really want an inclusive and legally sound website, it’s critical that you call in the experts.

Leave your ADA Compliance to the Professionals

At ClickTecs, we specialize in ADA compliance, and we’ve made it our mission to help businesses navigate the shift from offline marketing to digital marketing. To that end, we’ve compiled an ADA compliance website checklist with over 300 points that we use to thoroughly asses and audit the state of your current site in order to provide detailed tactical fixes.

For access to our 300-point ADA compliance website checklist, or to speak directly with a ClickTecs compliance expert, visit https://www.clicktecs.com/contact and book a free consultation.

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What You Need to Know About WCAG Compliance Testing

What is WCAG compliance testing and how can it save your business?

We break it down in layman’s terms in today’s post. Read on to learn all you need to know about making your site accessible to everyone – and avoiding lawsuits – with WCAG compliance testing.

What is WCAG Compliance?

WCAG is an acronym for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which are a series of web accessibility requirements developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

(Are you feeling any acronym ague yet?)

Basically, WCAG compliance refers to whether or not your web site design adheres to certain accessibility standards.

Does My Site Need to be WCAG Compliant?

Yes. Business owners are now legally required to follow WCAG standards to make their content equally accessible for those with disabilities. WCAG compliance standards are accepted internationally.

What are The Risks of Non-Compliance?

Failing to comply with these international standards has serious financial and reputational costs.

A flood of lawsuits have been brought to state and federal courts by opportunistic lawyers looking to profit off of business owners who have neglected their websites.

And even if you dodge the lawsuits, non-compliance can damage your brand image by getting you labelled “non-inclusive.” Believe it or not, WCAG non-compliance will soon be considered the virtual equivalent of refusing to serve disabled clients at an establishment.

What are Some WCAG Compliance Testing Tools?

Before we go any further, we should speak on what evaluation tools can and cannot do. Web accessibility tools will help you identify a number of potential accessibility issues. They come in handy at all stages of your web design and development process. You can use WCAG compliance testing tools for fully-automated checks, or to buff up your manual review.

But WCAG compliance testing tools cannot cover all aspects of your web compliance, and cannot determine whether your site is accessible – they can only assist in doing so. Some tests can provide false or misleading results, particularly if you stray outside of the recommended checkers. To determine your accessibility, human judgment and ADA/WCAG compliance testing expertise are required.

The following WCAG compliance testing tools are recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community dedicated to the creation of fair and just web standards.

  • 508 Checker. Simply enter your website URL to see if it meets 508 compliance and accessibility standards. It’s free software by Formstack that gives you a report of your evaluation results, but you’ll have to provide your name, email address, and a few other details to get it.
  • A-Tester. Like 508 Checker, A-Tester helps with WCAG compliance, and it’s totally free, so why not add it to your testing toolkit? A-Tester checks the URL you enter against certain WCAG 2.0 Level-AA conformance criteria selected by Evaluera Ltd, the developers.
  • A11y-checker. This open source software warns against potential HTML Markup code accessibility issues. It automatically checks single web pages, and can be used to check adherence on a number of criteria listed in the WCAG 2.0 and W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Remember: these are just a few of the tools that will make up your WCAG compliance testing arsenal, and they cannot determine your site’s accessibility on their own.

How do I Schedule WCAG Compliance Testing?

ClickTecs specializes in ADA and WCAG compliance testing. Using a select combination of auditing tools, expertise, and a checklist with more than 300 items, we provide truly comprehensive testing that quickly detects compliance violations.

Visit https://www.clicktecs.com/contact to book a free consultation.

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