WCAG 2.1 compliance should be the primary aim for sites seeking ADA compliance
17th November 2018
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Organizations and website owners are often unable to decide whether it is mandatory to have ADA compliance for their sites. The confusion arises from the narrative of the law that wants to put an end to discrimination in giving access to sites to all kinds of people including those with disabilities. The ADA has undergone several amendments since the Americans with Disabilities Act came into force in 1990 but nowhere does it explicitly address online compliance. The laws about ADA compliance website are still as grey as it used to be before that keep confusing website owners. However, going by the trend, it appears that sooner than later there are going to be laws that make ADA compliance for websites mandatory.  Therefore, it is high time that digital marketers and web designers start learning how they should prepare for it.

Understanding the context of ADA

Understanding the context of the law precedes the need to know the laws because it helps to interpret the laws in a more practical manner and the right perspective. The Civil Rights Act 1964 forms the edifice of ADA as it draws heavily from it and the spirit of ADA is to prevent discrimination in accessing ‘a place of public accommodation.'  As the Act was framed in 1990, the ‘place of public accommodation’ meant only places that the public can gain physical access. As the later half of the nineties witnessed a digital revolution, the already confusing laws started looking more confusing especially in determining whether a website is equivalent to ‘a place of public accommodation.'

The confusion continues

Title III of the ADA stipulates that the responsibility of providing equal access to users meeting the ADA standards of disability who frequent ‘a place of public accommodation’ rests on the owner, lessor or operator of that place. As of 2017 the number of online purchasers touched the 1.66 billion mark, and it seems that websites too should come under the purview of ADA despite still many grey areas in its legal interpretation.

Websites would not be left behind

When talking about public places and barriers, people usually envisage it in a physical form, and this is where the confusion starts. The Department of Justice of the US is working towards minimizing the confusion and have already made their intention clear in 2010 that they are ready to amend the language in Title III of the ADA to include website accessibility. The DOJ has made it clear that they are keen to ensure that the goods, services, privileges, accommodations, facilities or advantages offered by public accommodation by using the internet should be equally accessible to those with disabilities.

Well, the intentions of DOJ are yet to take a firm shape, but nobody knows when it will happen, and It is prudent to stay prepared instead of lamenting of being hit hard by the law when it comes into force. Since the ADA has its roots embedded in the WCAG which has a global reach, complying with WCAG 2.1 would keep websites ready to meet the requirements of ADA, should the need arise.

About the Author

Mandy Bular

Member since: 30th January 2018

Mandy Bular is a freelance content writer. She has written many good and informative articles on different categories such as technology, health, fashion, education, career, travel etc. She is a featured...

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