Imagine you are going about your day. Maybe, you are just opening the doors of your medical practice, or perhaps you are closing up a general store before checking your e-mails. Either way, it is disrupted by a lawsuit. That is no big deal, right? 1 in 3 doctors gets sued by the ages of 55. It’s a rite of passage at this point. But when it is over a website, something that maybe you don’t have direct control over, that is when it sounds confusing. Since when do websites need to be ADA compliant? Is this a new addendum to the law? How can anyone design a new website without the threat of a lawsuit? We will both answer these questions and offer solutions that can help with or prevent this problem.
A Refresher: What is the ADA Again?
The ADA is short for the Americans with Disability Act. It was a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that states it was illegal to discriminate based on race, religion, sex, national origin, or similar characteristics. The ADA added disability to the list on the Civil Rights Act. They also added the employers should provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees and imposed a few public sanctions to increase accessibility to the disabled. It’s why we have wheelchair ramps in front of public libraries, and why your boss cannot fire you for blindness.
There were a few addenda to the law that expand the definition of disability in 2008. It is ever-expanding thanks to medical progress and technological growth since. As it stands today, the definition of disability is constantly changing, and new accommodations (such as subtitle services for the deaf in movie theatres) are being added.
So, why do business websites have to comply with this act, exactly? Does my practice also have to comply with the ADA?
Does my Business Need to Be ADA Compliant?
There are a few factors that determine if your business or medical practice requires ADA compliance. According to the law, as it stands today, there are two categories in which business requires ADA compliance.
The first category is to be the legal definition of an employer. To be considered an employer, you need to meet all three requirements:
- You are engaged in an industry affecting commerce,
- Hired 15 or more full-time employees each working day,
- For at least 20 or more calendar weeks in the year.
This means if your business only has 14 or fewer full-time employees, or is only in business for less than 20 weeks a year, you do not have to comply with Title I.
The second category when a business is considered public accommodations. That means that if your business is supposed to serve the public, then it is supposed to be ADA compliant. These businesses include:
- Inns, hotels, and motels
- Restaurants and bars
- Bakeries and grocery stores
- Hardware stores or any sales/retail outlet
- Laundromats and dry cleaners
- Accountants and lawyers’ offices
- Health care providers’ offices
- Public transportation
- Recreation venues
- Social service centers
Both definitions are great for physical spaces, but what about the digital space? How does that fit in the equation of ADA?
Do Websites Need to be ADA Compliant?
This makes the concept much more complicated and nuanced. The law is just now catching up with technology when it comes to copyright or advertising. So, it makes sense that it’s still underway for disability accommodation. As of today, there is no specific standard of guidelines that is codified into law. But there has been a growing precedent. All thanks to a recent ruling in a case against the Winn Dixie supermarket chain. According to Judge Scola, that made the ruling, ” “Although Winn-Dixie argues that Gil has not been denied access to Winn-Dixie’s physical store locations because of the inaccessibility of the website, the ADA does not merely require physical access to a place of public accommodation”.
Just because it is not a requirement now, does not mean that it isn’t coming.
A Solution With Purple Tie Guys
Thankfully, we at the Purple Tie Guys are keeping ourselves aware of growing technological trends that are becoming standard. Not only are we researching into how websites should be ADA compliant, but we have a new plug-in that brings accessibility to visually impaired. This plug in will not only make fonts larger or smaller, but it can adjust text colors and contrast, stop animations, and even make the font easier to read. This accessibility platform works with all the modern major and popular browsers that over 95% of worldwide markets share. It is a technological solution for the internet accessibility problem.