By Woody Estep, Municode
The Internet has dramatically changed the way local governments engage their residents. Many local government websites offer a quick and convenient way of paying bills, renewing licenses, signing up for programs, applying for permits, or performing a wide variety of other services. As a result, many residents can easily access this information seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It is vital for governments to ensure their websites and content is accessible for all residents.
With the recent spike in website accessibility lawsuits, it is important that governments work toward website accessibility before a demand letter is issued to you about non-compliance. If a demand letter is received, it is imperative that you contact counsel that has experience in these types of cases.
Website accessibility helps those with disabilities, the older population with changing abilities, those at varying levels of cognitive skills, and those with temporary disabilities from an injury. Improving website accessibility is simply the right thing to do.
Recent website accessibility decisions and guidelines have simplified compliance. The U.S. Access Board published a final rule updating accessibility requirements for information and communication technology covered by the American Disabilities Act, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 255 of the Communications Act adopting the World Wide Web Consortium’s WCAG 2.1 Level AA guidelines as the standard for compliance.
Since making a website accessible has no considerable impact on its appearance, taking steps toward compliance does not have to be difficult. Perform an accessibility scan of your webpages and add an accessibility statement as to how and when your accessibility issues will be resolved. This lets users know that you are aware of the accessibility barriers and are committed to resolving them.
Develop an ongoing strategy of proper development for future web content for both in-house staff, as well as contractors. If done correctly, building an ADA compliance strategy can be easy and will help ensure that you and your team effectively connect with your entire community.
Here are a few links which may aid your staff in the development and maintenance of your website:
ADA Compliance Resources
- Web Accessibility Checker: https://achecker.ca/checker/index.php
- The Contrast Ratio Tool: http://contrast-ratio.com/
- Readability Test Tool:https://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp
- Tips on Writing for Web Accessibility: https://www.w3.org/WAI/gettingstarted/tips/writing.html
Example of Compliant Sites