Website accessibility: Risks, but no rules

In compliance, sometimes things are black and white (for example, the requirement to provide an adverse action notice within 30 days is found in 1002.9(a)(1)(i)). Other times they’re grey. And the grey areas can be where you’ll find some of your greatest potential risks.

A current – and sure to be ongoing – example is website accessibility. Lawsuits alleging violations of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) are on the rise. In 2015 alone, there were over 40 website accessibility cases under the ADA filed against well-known companies such as the National Basketball Association, Sprint, J.C. Penney, and Home Depot.

In general, these lawsuits claim that websites contain digital barriers that limit the ability of the visually impaired to access the site. These individuals use assistive technology, such as screen reader software, to convert web page text to synthesized speech or a digital Braille display. However, for the screen readers to work with a website, the web developer must program the site for compatibility.

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