The Americans With Disabilities Act requires all businesses to make accommodations for disabled and differently abled people. Businesses found in violation of the ADA can face steep, recurring fines every day they are not compliant. Becoming complaint usually entails installing things like ramps, handicapped parking and Braille placards on certain thresholds.
It’s all pretty straightforward until you get to the company website. I spoke with Paul, who leads the website accessibility team for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“The same way you have people (suing) businesses for ADA violations, there are guys who surf the web to find companies whose websites are in violation.”
A big part of our job at ConnectedHR is reducing corporate liability (ideally to zero) and protecting our clients from litigation.
“By law, a blind person has to be able to use your website.” Paul told us, “And there are people who make a living suing companies for not abiding by that.”
One of the worst things to happen to a small company is unforeseen litigation and expense.
Larger companies, like Anthem, employ half a dozen people to constantly update and test their site. These teams often include legally blind people, as well as those living with MS.
“I can’t pretend to have MS and tell you whether the website was easy for me to use,” says Paul.
However, if you only have 12 employees anyway, you’re probably not going to be able to dedicate resources towards this. So, here are some quick tips to take care of most potential issues.
Copy and Paste
Government websites, like the Department of Homeland Security’s site, always have to be compliant. So, if you’re ever lost, just copy off of them.
Screen Reader Test
A blind person will almost always use third-party screen reading software over the default offerings. The industry standard for desktop computers is a software called JAWS, while Apple screen reader is preferred for mobile sites. However, Google Chrome has a screen reader that’s considered decent if baseline, and it’s free. Try to navigate your website and find contact information without your eyes.
One of the most common issues with sites stems from the text not being registered as text by screen reading software. Customers and potential customers may miss information, and opt to go with a company that has a more accessible site. Speak with your webmaster if you discover any problems.
Hyperlinks are bright blue and underlined to specifically to cater to colorblind people; red-green color blindness is the most common. Pages need to have a 3:1 color ratio. That is, the background needs to be 3 times darker than the text. Don’t mess with it.
Nuisance lawsuits can’t be sustained. This is a source of nuisance lawsuits and customer abrasion. No matter how well delivered your product or service is, it’s difficult to access, your customers will find somewhere else.
If you have any questions, give us a shout. ConnectedHR works with all sorts of companies to solve all sorts of problems, so give us a call.