As a result of the pandemic, more consumers are shopping online, and businesses are adapting by creating e-commerce options. One issue that is often overlooked in the e-commerce setting is website accessibility for those with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires businesses to comply with accessibility standards for disabled persons. Recently, businesses have been receiving ADA Website Accessibility Demand letters claiming that their businesses violate Title III of the ADA because their website is not accessible to individuals with disabilities. Typically, the letter will request modifications to be made to the website along with a request for payment to settle the claim.
Currently, however, there are no concrete, uniform legal standards for what is required for ADA website accessibility compliance. However, numerous U.S. District Court decisions refer to the most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) as the gold standard for best practices.
In addition to performing an audit of your website to meet WCAG standards, one of the ways businesses can create more accessibility for e-consumers is to publish an accessibility statement that informs users of your company’s policies, goals, and achievements regarding web accessibility.
A robust Accessibility Statement should include at least the following:
[COMPANY NAME] is committed to ensuring equal access for people with disabilities. As potential customers and employees of [COMPANY NAME], they are important contributors to [COMPANY NAME]'s business success and should not be excluded but rather welcomed into the [COMPANY NAME] family. [COMPANY NAME] will endeavor to maximize the access of people with disabilities to this website. [Web content produced by [COMPANY NAME] is intended to meet [STANDARD] [VERSION NUMBER], [LEVEL OF CONFORMANCE][ by the target compliance date of [DATE]].] [Content provided by our site by third-party developers is intended to meet [CONTENT STANDARD], [VERSION NUMBER][ by the target compliance date of [DATE]].][ This [does not] include[s] user-generated content.] [COMPANY NAME] aims to ensure that our authoring tools and processes meet [AUTHORING TOOL STANDARD] [VERSION NUMBER][ by the target compliance date of [DATE]]. If you have any questions, please contact [EMPLOYER NAME]'s Accessibility Coordinator, who can be reached at [EMPLOYEE PHONE NUMBER] or [EMPLOYEE EMAIL ADDRESS].
The Accessibility Statement can also address the following:
- Identify ways users can customize the website to their needs, such as font resizing or color-contrast adjustment.
- List assistive tools, such as the screen-reading software, that are compatible with your site.
- Explain how your website can be properly used on mobile devices.