The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established in 1990 to ensure that individuals with disabilities were given equal access to public accommodations, employment, and government programs. However, with the rise of the internet, there has been a growing concern about websites that are inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in lawsuits and settlements related to website accessibility. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken a firm stance on the need for websites to be ADA compliant, and many companies have been held accountable for failing to meet ADA standards.
One such example is the ADA website settlement agreement reached between the Department of Justice and H&R Block in 2014. The agreement required H&R Block to make its website accessible to individuals with disabilities and ensure that its mobile applications meet the standards outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA.
Under the agreement, H&R Block was also required to appoint an ADA Coordinator to oversee compliance efforts and ensure that all digital content is accessible to individuals with disabilities. The agreement was significant in that it set a precedent for other companies to follow suit and prioritize website accessibility.
In addition to lawsuits and settlements, the lack of ADA compliant websites can also impact a company’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Search engines such as Google have been known to prioritize websites that are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This means that companies that fail to prioritize website accessibility may be at a disadvantage when it comes to SEO.
To avoid these pitfalls, companies should prioritize website accessibility and ensure that their websites are compliant with ADA standards. This includes making sure that all images have alt text, providing transcripts for audio and video content, and ensuring that the website can be navigated with a keyboard.
In conclusion, the ADA website settlement agreement between the DOJ and H&R Block demonstrates the importance of website accessibility and ADA compliance. Companies that fail to prioritize website accessibility may face legal consequences and potentially harm their SEO efforts. Therefore, companies should make accessibility a priority and ensure that their websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities.