Frequently Asked Questions About Website Accessibility

How is accessibility measured?

The ADA defines a website as operating “a place of public accommodation.” There are 12 different types of public accommodations this statue lists but the one that encompasses most websites is “other sales or rental establishment.”  When the statute was passed in 1988, the Internet was not what it is today. 

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, your website is an extension of that store and so are the requirements. For those who do not, you’re still under the ADA because of the way the guidelines were originally written to include reasonable accommodation. The lawsuit against Blue Apron.com and NetFlix illustrates this ruling.

What are the standards for accessibility?

ADA and the Rehabilitation Act – Section 508 and 504 use the standards set by WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). 

Within the WCAG standards, there are four sections (P.O.U.R.): 

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable and
  • Robust 

There are four different levels of compliance, A, AA, and AAA.

How does accessibility affect website users?

When you hear the term ADA compliance, chances are you think of wheelchair ramps, handicap parking. But there are now standardized rules for website accessibility.  Any content, items for sale, download of documents, forms, and any other types of content you offer must be made available to people who have handicaps as well. This includes those who are visually impaired such as color blind, low vision and blind who need special alternative views and the use of screen readers.  For website users who are hearing impaired, they require closed captioning on videos and audio provided on your website.  For those who have physical handicaps making it impossible to use a keyboard, they use special equipment, such as head pointers, they too must have access in the same manner as all users on your website.

Who are required to comply for accessibility?

All public entities must comply with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Each state and local government’s services, activities, and programs that are provided to the public must be accessible. Services, activities, and programs are subject to Title III if provided directly or supplied through contractual work or licensing. Even if a state and local program is not funded by or receives financial assistance from the federal government, it must still comply with the ADA under Title III.  Every state and local government program must comply including schools and universities.  Title III and Section 504/508 applies to organizations that are recipients of federal funds and those who do business with the government.

What happens if you do not comply with the law?

Some website owners receive “demand letters” many to the tune of $50K or more.  Some businesses just receive notice of litigation and then scramble to find a solution for their accessibility.  When either of those happen, the costs incurred are always more than being proactive.  Businesses must then make their websites accessible, usually pay a settlement and their attorney fees. 

Why isn’t accessibility built-in to a website?

Could be digital agencies and businesses with in-house development teams are not aware of the requirements for their website, or do not want to add the overhead of having an accessibility expert on staff and would rather partner with an expert who can work with their development team, like Get ADA Accessible, providing auditing and reporting on the accessibility errors on the website and providing the needed code to remediate them.

Can't I just add one of the overlays and be ok?

There are many “pseudo” accessibility overlays on the market making promises of website accessibility. 

We have manually tested websites with these overlays and they all fail. Not only that, they also force a user to abandon their assistive technology they use daily and resort to the overlays.  

As you can image, this is not a solution but a hinderance for those with disabilities. Don’t be fooled into thinking an overlay will make your website accessible. 

In an article on Forbes entitled: “Website Accessibility Lawsuits Rising Exponentially In 2023 According To Latest Data”  it states: “According to UsableNET’s report, which involved the company’s research team documenting all lawsuits involving websites or mobile apps in federal court under the ADA or in state courts in New York and California, there have been 414 lawsuits to date in 2023 filed against companies with active widgets in contrast to 313 during the same period last year.”

accessibility bandaid overlays

I have more questions

We’re always happy to answer any questions. Schedule a time to talk or contact us below using the forms below. 

downs syndrome child with orange iphone

Contact GET ADA Accessible

"*" indicates required fields

Your Name * Required
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Schedule A Time To talk

Our accessibility team is here to help you every step of the way.

Scroll to Top