The four best steps to preventing an ADA Website Compliance lawsuit in 2020 are:
- Manually remediate (fix) your website in accordance with WCAG 2.0 AA
- Have your website user tested by persons with disabilities
- Get your WAVE checker errors to zero or very low
- Create a robust, custom web accessibility policy
Take care of this checklist and you can take a deep sigh of relief; it’s highly unlikely any demand letters will be arriving in your mailbox.
Let’s talk in plain English about what each of these four bullet points means.
WCAG 2.0 AA is a set of technical standards that tell you what you need to do to make your website accessible.
Some of the standards are easy to implement. Some your website probably already takes care of by default. And others are technically more difficult and you’ll need some help.
Courts frequently reference WCAG 2.0 AA as a measuring stick in determining whether a website is accessible.
If you can hire a developer or agency that can remediate or fix your website so that it meets WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria, you’re in great shape.
Website remediation is never an instant fix. Instant accessibility is impossible so do not let any vendors deceive you on this.
For true remediation, there must be edits made at the code level of the website.
In some instances, it is easier to build a new accessible website than it is to retrofit an old website for accessibility.
User testing involves having persons with disabilities actually review and inspect your website for inaccessibility.
The users will provide feedback and then you will implement changes based on that feedback to make your website even more robust.
Having testing done shows a genuine commitment towards accessibility and goes beyond the technical WCAG standards to address the practical side of accessibility — how well can users with disabilities access and engage with your website.
This is something you’ll definitely want to include and feature in your web accessibility policy as testing alone can ward off claims of discrimination with real evidence that users with disabilities can access your website.
WAVE Checker Errors
WAVE is a free website accessibility checker tool that is by far the most popular among plaintiff’s lawyers.
If the error count is really high when a scan is run by a plaintiff’s lawyer, you will receive a demand letter.
One of the best tips for avoiding a lawsuit is to get WAVE to show 0 or close to zero errors and warnings.
This is more of a practical measure as most accessibility issues cannot be found by running an automated scan. However, the results of this tool continually decide whether a lawsuit is threatened so it’s best if you can whittle the errors down.
A policy page is sometimes overlooked but, as I hit upon in the user testing section, your policy page matters.
Beyond user testing, you can bolster your policy with other supporting actions such as:
- hiring an independent consultant
- appointment of web accessibility coordinator
- conducting regular audits
- training staff on accessibility
- purchases made in furtherance of accessibility
Everything you do to make your digital operations more accessible helps. It’s not one single thing that makes your policy robust but the collective strength of your actions, especially the ongoing measures.
The more specific/detailed and tailored your policy page is, the better.
I’ve provided a template website accessibility policy in another article but you certainly don’t want to limit yourself to a generic policy if you’ve taken big, powerful steps towards making your digital offerings accessible.
The four bullet points above are the very best practices for avoiding an ADA Website Compliance lawsuit in 2020.
As you unpack the remediation side of things, you’ll realize that meeting WCAG 2.0 AA will take an ongoing effort.
If you need help figuring out WCAG, my WCAG Guide is free, just subscribe to Accessible.org and I’ll send you a copy.