As many of you have seen there are numerous companies, including community banks, receiving demand letters claiming the company's website is violating ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. We wanted to help simplify it and give folks a plan of action.
ADA Compliance for websites helps the visually impaired "read" your website content. This means the code of the website needs to be modified to accommodate the ADA requirements. These modifications allow on-screen text readers to guide visually impaired people through your website.
The ADA has a checklist you can follow as well but here are some of the requirements:
- Every image, video file, audio file, plug-in, etc. has an alt tag
- Complex graphics are accompanied by detailed text descriptions
- The alt descriptions describe the purpose of the objects
- If an image is also used as a link, make sure the alt tag describes the graphic and the link destination
- Decorative graphics with no other function have empty alt descriptions (alt= "")
- Add captions to videos
- Add audio descriptions
- Create text transcript
- Create a link to the video rather than embedding it into web pages
- Add a link to the media player download
- Add an additional link to the text transcript
- The page should provide alternative links to the Image Map
- The <area> tags must contain an alt attribute
- Data tables have the column and row headers appropriately identified (using the <th> tag)
- Tables used strictly for layout purposes do NOT have header rows or columns
- Table cells are associated with the appropriate headers (e.g. with the id, headers, scope and/or axis HTML attributes)
- Make sure the page does not contain repeatedly flashing images
- Check to make sure the page does not contain a strobe effect
- A link is provided to a disability-accessible page where the plug-in can be downloaded
- All Java applets, scripts and plug-ins (including Acrobat PDF files and PowerPoint files, etc.) and the content within them are accessible to assistive technologies, or else an alternative means of accessing equivalent content is provided
- When form controls are text input fields use the LABEL element
- When text is not available use the title attribute
- Include any special instructions within field labels
- Make sure that form fields are in a logical tab order
- Include a ‘Skip Navigation' button to help those using text readers
Plan of Action
Most of the above might sound Greek which is why the best plan of action is to contact your web site designer and ask them if your website is ADA Compliant. If so, make sure you have documented proof of compliance just in case you need it. There are several free tools on the web that can do an automated check of your website. Some of the vendors that offer ADA compliance help are:
Don't ignore the demand letters. If you have legal council it would be beneficial to loop them in on it to determine whether or not it's a legitimate claim and form a plan of action. If you get your website updated and can show proof of compliance, the claim can be dismissed in most cases. Either way, consulting with your attorney is the best option to determine how to respond.
Finally, don't wait to receive a demand letter to take action. ADA compliance is required regardless of demand letters so being proactive and getting your website updated is the best option.