In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will be implementing legislation that will create online accessibility standards to ensure websites can be accessed by those who are deaf or visually disabled as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
These regulations are intended to provide all Americans with equal access to essential goods and services, such as those offered by your institution. Kasasa clients with FIRSTBranch sites have always enjoyed best-in-class accessibility functions from day one. However, due to changes in the legal landscape we’re going above and beyond this functionality through a key partnership with AudioEye.
ADA Lawsuits Facing Community Banks and Credit Unions
In the meantime, we’ve seen a sizeable increase in the number of letters threatening legal action against our client financial institutions with partially compliant websites.
This trend is actually industry-wide, according to Duane Morris LLP, there has been an increase in the number of lawsuits against financial institutions that “contend that ‘[b]lind and visually impaired consumers must use screen reading software or other assistive technologies in order to access website content’ and that the defendants’ websites contain digital barriers which limit the ability of blind and visually impaired consumers to access the site’.”
While these threats may seem unwarranted, especially since we’re years away from enforcement by the DOJ, the implications are immediate. Many institutions have chosen to settle out of court in order to avoid the risk of further legal action.
Four Standards That Will Affect Your Institution’s Website
The Department of Justice will be basing the 2018 standards on the four Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which state that content must be:
1. Perceivable – Information must be able to be perceived through the individual senses of sight, hearing, and touch.
2. Operable – The website must be operable by everyone and the devices they may be using to navigate the site.
3. Understandable – All users must be able to clearly understand the information the website is presenting.
4. Robust – The website should work across different devices and user agents (like browsers or operating systems), including assistive technologies.
Title III of the ADA states, “No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any private entity who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”
How to Make Your Website ADA Compliant
If you don’t already have accessibility features in place, it may seem overwhelming to make all these adjustments to your site, but it’s worth it. Not only is a full-featured customer experience compliant; it also invites disabled consumers to truly engage with your website and benefit from your products and services. Offering a website that caters to everyone can enhance the reputation of your community financial institution and put you at the forefront of serving your entire community.
We can help you create this comprehensive user experience and easily become compliant with ADA guidelines via our partnership with AudioEye. Contact us for more information about how you can ensure your website provides a great experience for everyone. Alternately, if you’re a FIRSTBranch client and have received a letter threatening legal action, read this PDF for further instructions.