The ADA's Impact on Your Website: New USDOJ Rules Coming

Well is that a subject you have ever thought about? Not me. But thanks to Adam Santucci of the Pennsylvania Labor & Employment Blog  I have now. Adam reports that the litigation group from their lawfirm published a newsletter discussing The Internet – The Next Frontier for the ADA: Will Your Website Comply?  Writer Kimberly Colonna talks about the U.S. Department of Justice’s publication in the Federal Register of a notice soliciting the private sectors input about requiring Americans with Disabilities Act compliance on access to websites. They are asking for public input into the questions they ask about accessibility, not whether or not it is a good thing. They are going to be making rules and enforcing those rules on all websites in the future. So it is important that you prepare.

These accessibility rules are already required for State and Local governments. If you want to review what is required currently you can visit the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local GovernmentsIf you would like to read the proposed rules you can go to Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations and you can even leave a comment.

According to Colonna, some of the accessability issues identified include:

  • websites that do not allow font color and size to be adjusted to accommodate the visually impaired;
  • websites that rely heavily on images without captions, such that “screen readers” or other assistive technology cannot read the information aloud to persons who cannot see the images;
  • websites that require timed responses from users, but do not provide an option for a user to indicate that more time is needed; and
  • CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart), the distorted text that websites may require a user to input before completing a transaction, which may be impossible for a person with a visual impairment. 

This has a human resources impact because lack of accessibility to your website may become an employment discrimination issue. How is a candidate supposed to apply for a position if the website is not accessible to visually impaired individuals. Even with employees who work for you, if they acquire a disability due to accident or health problem, will they have access to your website for purposes of work or obtaining company related information? Something to think about.

And you blog writers. It is something to think about as well. Many of us have the “spam guard” identification measures in place on our comment sections. Will this have to change. (Of course some of us get less comment traffic than others. So for some that may not be an issue.)

So, HR work with your web folks and make sure you can be compliant because the RULES ARE COMING!

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