It’s a bad day by any measure: you sit down at your desk and open the day’s mail only to find a letter telling you that your website isn’t compliant with ADA web standards and threatening civil action if you don’t pay. Some firms may be attempting to enforce the “spirit” of these guidelines — for the most part, it’s an attempt to collect on ambiguous legal grounds. However, the pace of letters has increased, and we expect it to affect all banks and credit unions sooner rather than later.
ADA web standards affect a wide variety of businesses, and in a recent case in Florida, the court ruled against the grocery chain Winn-Dixie for failure to comply with the guidelines. Community financial institutions (CFIs) are particularly vulnerable when it comes to compliance, due to the strong connection between their websites and their physical location. We’ve written about the latest ADA guidelines, first when it became clear that malicious parties were attacking CFIs and later when the Department of Justice pushed back the ratification deadline.
Even with AudioEye, you could get a threatening letter — here’s what you need to know.
To better equip our clients to face this challenge, Kasasa partnered with AudioEye, the industry leader in ADA compliant technology for websites. In fact, when fully implemented, AudioEye meets or exceeds ADA web standards — leaving little room for predatory lawyers to operate.
However, many of our FIRSTBranch clients have received threat letters after successfully launching AudioEye on their site. The letters would seem to suggest that audit software has exposed an area of non-compliance and thus, immediate action is required.
Phone-scammers use a similar tactic: calling a potential victim, presenting a highly urgent scenario (“pay back-taxes now, or the IRS will throw you in jail”) and preying on your uncertainty. It’s a scary situation for anyone, and most CFIs aren’t willing to risk expensive litigation or penalties.
No matter what that letter says, AudioEye DOES meet current ADA standards.
We’d like to set the record for anyone using AudioEye to make their website fully accessible to disabled users: AudioEye meets or exceeds the current ADA web standards. These standards have not become law yet, but that doesn’t preclude legal action. The Winn-Dixie case illustrates that this “gray” area can prove troublesome if you aren’t using a robust solution.
It’s true that some software might show your site as non-compliant, there are several possibilities for this, perhaps it’s an error, or the program doesn’t recognize AudioEye’s capabilities.
ADA compliance is based on guidelines, not a law.
As of this writing, ADA compliance is not a law; it’s broad guidelines that are open to interpretation. We have worked with AudioEye to, not only meet, but exceed various interpretations of ADA compliance — a show of good faith to disabled users and regulators. AudioEye is the leader in ADA compliance and is a tireless advocate for accessibility. We believe this to be the only true way to keep a site compliant given changes to sites that FIs request or do on their own.
Please don’t confuse this blog with professional legal advice, when in doubt you should always rely on the advice of your legal counsel when it comes to issues of liability. That said, we’re confident in AudioEye’s ability to provide fully compliant service to us (you can even test it out on this page) and our clients.
In short, when the ADA compliance trolls come knocking, AudioEye gives you the confidence to send them packing! We’ve also included some specific steps you can take if you receive one of these letters.
How to respond if you receive a letter threatening legal action
If you become the target of accessibility-related legal demands, our team, in conjunction with AudioEye, will help guide you in crafting your response.*
Here are the basic steps.
Step 1: Inform your legal counsel that you have received a letter to ensure that you respond in a timely and appropriate manner.
Step 2: Draft a letter with your legal counsel outlining the following measures you have taken:
1. Designing and developing your site with digital inclusion in mind.
2. Striving to conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
3. Leveraging AudioEye, a third party web accessibility specialist that employs certified professionals in accessibility and experienced assistive technology testers (many of whom are individuals with disabilities).
4. Development of a long-term plan to ensure the equitable use of your digital assets and an optimal user experience for everyone, regardless of individual abilities.
Step 3: Implement AudioEye on your FIRSTBranch site, if you haven’t already.
IMPORTANT: We cannot integrate AudioEye on your site without your permission and cooperation. Please contact your dedicated Kasasa representative as soon as possible to learn more about implementing AudioEye on your FIRSTBranch website.
*This information is designed and intended to provide general information and options on regulatory and legal topics, as such, the contents do not constitute legal advice, are not all-inclusive or exhaustive, are not intended as a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied on as such. You should seek independent legal advice.