Undermining the matter of digital accessibility can cost you!
In fact, not many businesses know this, but since operating online has become more of a necessity for every business, the US government is actually on the verge of carving its laws accordingly. The worst part is that a lot of small businesses are unaware and are prone to penalties set in this regard.
It was only recently that the Department of Justice which was supposed to carve these rules, delayed its rulemaking. The DOJ had planned to write down a list of guidelines, specifically concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act. These guidelines were supposed to come out last year in April. The date got delayed to 2017, and following the same route, it has now been postponed until 2018.
This has been a raging matter for quite some time now. It wasn’t long ago when DOJ began threatening businesses who had allegedly put up an inaccessible desktop and mobile website design, especially if the website was a public accommodation. In that case, the businesses will come under the ADA which means they have to become ADA compliant.
This is where the ambiguity lies. Businesses that fall under ADA have to make their mobile and desktop website accessible to the disabled. But which businesses are on the list?
In addition to that matter, another thing that remains unsettled is the definition of an accessible website. Even if your business lies under the ADA and you are willing to become ADA compliant, there is no well-defined way on how you can do that. As of now, the W3C voluntary guidelines are being followed on the matter.
The Unfortunate Matter
The reason why this is alarming for businesses is that although you may want to make your websites accessible and follow the ADA laws, you cannot right now, since there is yet no clear guideline. On the other hand, the DOJ continues to enforce businesses to become ADA compliant. Unfortunately, online retailers have become their prime target for now. According to the Department of Justice, such businesses will not only have to impose requirements on their websites, but also have to develop accessibility policy, and train website developers.
It is more than obvious that businesses don’t have the option to wait until next year for regulations to come out. Lawyers working against these businesses have aggressively been following online retailers. Companies are being forced to follow the “agreed plan”—something which does not exist. The result is that these businesses end up paying attorney’s fees in addition to the damages that apparently need to be settled.
In other words, digital accessibility is, as of the moment, a concept private litigants are using for exploitation.
In a Nutshell
The things have been unraveling, it is just way too costly to wait for 2018 for a proper set of regulations to come out. If you want to keep yourself from the undue pressures and costly measures, it is best that you make your web design accessible right now.