Is Your YMCA Website Accessible?
If not, you could be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Do you know Juan Carlos Gil? Mr. Gil, a resident of Florida, has filed almost 70 lawsuits against companies who have websites designed to sell products and services to the general public. Not because he was deceived by false advertising or these websites served malware to his computer, but because Mr. Gil is legally blind and during his time using these sites, they didn’t meet the American Disabilities Act Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
On June 13th, 2017, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola of Florida ruled in favor of Mr. Gil vs. Winn-Dixie Stores. The company had gone through a $7M website renovation, but the design team, developers, and management failed to comply with the ADA Title III regulations regarding Web Content Accessibility.
Even though the Winn-Dixie website does not have a physical structure (because we tend to think about ADA compliance in terms of physical accommodations), the judge ruled they were still in violation of Title III because of the close connection between the store and website. Since the website served as a gateway to the physical store, Judge Scola believed the website to be a “place of public accommodation.”
The damages Winn-Dixie sustained were estimated at $250,000 to bring the site back into compliance, communicate with the public about doing so, and ongoing future work with third parties to bring the site into WCAG 2.0.
What Exactly Does Accessibility Mean?
Not going into very much detail here, WCAG Standards dictate that website content be easily communicated to the disabled through:
- Perceivable — formation and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
- Operable — User interface components and navigation must be operable.
- Readable-Make text content readable and understandable.
- Robust-Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
In actuality WCAG Accessibility requires your website to be very forgiving when viewed or read through screen readers.
YMCA Accessibility Examples:
Text In Images
YMCAs love, love, love to add text in an image. Most likely every YMCA website in the country does this. In actuality, depending on the way the image is designed, this is a ADA violation.
Web form Construction
If an input field has an error in it, that error must be communicated in text, not just a color change. Many of the WCAG Standards refer to screen readers, devices blind people use to read websites. If your website is not “spelling” out all your communications in text, you’re not ADA compliant.
Carousel Image Sliders
Many Y loves to use these because it appeases all the program directors who want their programs on the home page. As part of WCAG, all sliders must have the ability to pause or stop.
There are literally dozens of WCAG Standards that are required to meet ADA Compliance Title III and the issue doesn’t go away after a website launch. A new website might very well be ADA Compliant, but future content managers not continue proper standards.
Since the YMCA is defined as a “place of public accommodation,” there’s no debate as to whether your website must be ADA Compliant.
Just like Winn-Dixie probably thought they would never be sued over this, most YMCAs will probably prioritize this as very low, but the repercussions could be high. All it takes is one Mr. Gil in your market to make a difference.
Also, as a non-profit receiving government grants, ADA non-compliance on your website may also affect grant opportunities.
Consoria offers an ADA Audit that will provide you with a detailed report of your compliance requirements. To discuss details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.