Is your website inclusive? Normally we think that making a business accessible to the disabled requires ramps, Braille on bathroom signs, making sure that there are ASL interpreters on hand during presentations, and so forth. However, we often don’t think of making our own websites accessible in the same way. And, by not doing so, you could land yourself in some legal waters. Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), sets the guidelines for what companies must do to ensure public accommodations do not exclude or segregate individuals.

Ken Nakata led a webinar with the National Lumber

and Building Material Dealer's Association (NLBMDA) on how companies can make their sites accessible:

The only surefire way for your company not to be found liable for any type of ADA infraction is to make your site accessible, according to Nakata. There is no such thing as ADA-compliance as it relates to websites but the safest standard is WCAG 2.00. This is the agreed-upon universal design standard developed by a collaboration of industry, government, academia, and disability groups with the World Wide Web Consortium. WCAG 2.00 AA is the standard used by an increasing number of governments internationally as well as the standard that the U.S. is most likely to move to next.

In order to test the accessibility of your site, it is recommended that you hire a company with qualified testers and experience testing to WCAG 2.00 AA standards. It is also recommended that you not entirely rely on automated testing tools. The average cost of having your website assessed varies depending on the specifics of your site (number of pages in transaction, time it takes to do each page, etc.).

Aside from making your website accessible, you must include an accessibility statement on your site to which your company will adhere. Nakata explained that the accessibility statement consists of "your plans for achieving accessibility, how you are meeting your milestones, and alternate means of accessing inaccessible content." The presence of this statement on the footer of the page and every place where users can interact with the site can significantly reduce or eliminate liability."

Read more >