To avoid a lawsuit in 2020, here are the best courses of action:
- Update your website so that it falls in conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA
- Follow as many best practices that show genuine commitment to accessibility as is reasonable within your budget
WCAG 2.0 AA Conformance
WCAG stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This is a set of technical standards set by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a non-profit international community.
2.0 AA is the version and level of standards. Although it isn’t law, 2.0 AA is widely referenced and cited by U.S. courts as a guide for whether a website is accessible.
AA includes all of level A. In total, there are 38 bullet points (referred to as success criteria) under AA.
Some success criteria are easy to understand and implement. Others are difficult.
To see a quick checklist and download a full WCAG Guide for free, go to Accessible.org.
Remediating your website to meet WCAG 2.0 AA is the most important action to take to become ADA Compliant.
However, for legal best practices, you want to memorialize your work and commitment to digital accessibility.
The first step here is to create a web accessibility policy and include everything you’ve done to further the accessibility of your website.
If you’ve already conducted a manual audit and remediating a website, these two things would go inside your policy.
Other measures worthy of inclusion:
- user testing your website
- appointing a web accessibility coordinator
- conducting audits/testing at fixed intervals (e.g. quarterly, biannually, annually)
- attending web accessibility training
- hiring a consultant to advise you
Of course, you’re not limited to the above bullet points. Anything you do in furtherance of accessibility belongs in your policy.
To go next level, you can create an accessibility statement. This is going to function similar to a VPAT ® (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) in that you’re simply accounting for each success criterion in WCAG 2.0 AA and providing commentary as how your website meets each.
To reduce your risk of receiving a demand letter or lawsuit for 2020, one more recommendation is to check your website against the automated scan, WAVE tool checker.
Automated checkers can only catch 1/3 of website accessibility issues but they are frequently used by plaintiff’s lawyers as the basis for accessibility claims.
If you can get your errors and alerts to 0, this is a very prudent maneuver that can further lower your risk even further.
If you can get WAVE to 0, remediate your website to meet WCAG 2.0 AA, and create a policy loaded with real, tangible actions that show genuine commitment and concern for accessibility, the only way you’ll get sued is if the plaintiff’s law firm doesn’t look at your website (it does happen).