There are a range of disabilities that may impair an individual’s ability to access a website, said Sara T. Schneider, partner at Arent Fox during an SFA In the Know webinar, Thursday. These disabilities may include visual (partial, total, or color blindness), motor (difficulty moving specific parts of the body), hearing (deafness or hard-of-hearing), cognitive (learning disabilities or inability to focus), or photosensitivity (having a condition triggered by flashing lights) impairments.
One of the key issues that a website may have in terms of accessibility is a lack of alternative text for images or a lack of captioning for audio and video, shared Schneider. In addition, inaccessible websites may have complex navigation and page layouts; moving, blinking, or flickering content that cannot be turned off, or a lack of full keyboard support.
To make one’s website as accessible as possible, Schneider recommended complying with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Criteria, and giving those with disabilities a chance to navigate the website and give feedback.
Schneider also shared the following strategies:
• Ensure the site is compatible with screen readers
• Give visitors the ability to control contrast settings
• Include audio descriptions and captions
• Allow users to navigate with their keyboard
• Enable resizing of text and images
• Allow users to control the volume
• Use alternative text for images or video
Schneider urged participants to connect with their web development team and assess their website for compliance. Then, determine if they can make it more accessible with the resources they have in-house or if a third party vendor is needed. Creating an accessibility statement, ongoing monitoring, and implementing accessibility policies and training are also important, according to Schneider.
“Accessibility is good business,” she said, “but also, this is an uncertain area of the law and most commercial websites could potentially be targeted under federal or state law.” Schneider noted that there have been over 2,000 cases filed each year regarding website accessibility from 2017 to present, with New York, Florida, and California being the most popular states for litigation.