Written By: Lisa Noon, CAE, RCE
We’re hearing more and more about companies being contacted by law firms with complaints about the company’s website and its compliance with ADA Title III rules. These types of what are called “drive by” complaints can be hard to fight and very expensive for a property manager, so it’s always a good idea to periodically check your website for compliance. How do you do that? Here are a few tips:
- Go to WAVE, a reputable web accessibility evaluation tool that you can access free of charge. All you have to do is type in your website address and in seconds, you’ll have a report that shows exactly where errors and alerts appear. Don’t be surprised if your logo gets flagged for missing alternative text – this is fairly common! The goal is to bring your error count down to as close to zero as possible; if it’s really high, you could be in danger of receiving a demand letter from a plaintiff’s attorney.
- Add an accessibility policy to your website. In 2020, not having a policy page has been a common source of complaint and lawsuit. The more specific you can be, the better – click here for a useful article with a sample policy.
- Test your website with actual users who are disabled. What does that mean? Typically, the ADA looks for ways you can make your website easier for those with visual limitations, physical disability (are not able to use a mouse or keyboard), or have hearing disability. Some specific examples of each are:
Visual – the viewer could have the ability to increase text sizes or magnify the screen, change background and text colors (for those who are color blind), or the ability to have the computer read web pages out loud. For example, you should always have text behind every graphic on your page, even if it’s your logo, so it can be read aloud to the user. Is your site compatible with screen reader technology?
Physical – can the user tab through menus and links through their keyboard instead of the mouse?
Hearing – do you provide transcripts of audio information and captioning for videos?
- Hire a consultant to remediate your website. There are no plug-ins, toolbars, widgets or any other immediate ‘fixes’ that will make your website instantly accessible. Ask your consultant if your site complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Levels A and AA – the most common measures of what constitutes an accessible website.
- Remember that some states and even some localities have their own accessibility laws, so check with your attorney to see if that might apply to your company’s site.
This list is not all-encompassing; needless to say, there is a lot to ensuring a compliant website, and it may even require a complete redesign. Watch for an article in the upcoming July 2020 issue of Residential Resource for more information.
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