Welcome to Elite Compliance Programs
In light of the recent push for website accessibility as championed by the Americans With Disabilities Act, Elite Strategies is offering our own Elite Compliance Programs to help your company and website appropriately follow and implement the ADA’s guidelines for web accessibility. Realizing that current public opinion and increasing litigation would soon turn to industry standards, Elite Strategies created the Elite Compliance Programs with both business owners and disabled Americans in mind. The expertise offered by the SEO and web design professionals at Elite Strategies is a perfect match for helping companies make their sites ultra accessible.
So what exactly do the ADA guidelines entail? Well, there are a lot of website-specific accessibility issues it aims to fix, including: images without text equivalents (for those with vision disabilities), documents not posted in an accessible format (often PDF), dictated colors and font settings (it is preferable to design sites so that the viewers can choose font and color sizes in their settings), videos and multimedia elements lacking accessible features (including audio descriptions and captions is often the fix), and more. Elite Compliance Programs can help provide you and your company with accessible coding, text equivalents, alt tags/descriptions for images and other elements that should be part of your toolkit for adhering to the ADA’s web accessibility guidelines.
This can explain why of the 26,000 new ADA-related claims filed each year, and increasing by vast numbers this is expected to quadruple Another term you should familiarize yourself with in light of these events is WCAG 2.0. The WCAG 2.0 is a reference standard used to chronicle website accessibility principles and guidelines. By staying on the right side of the WCAG 2.0, you can ensure your company will have an accessible online presence. However, if your site is found to be noncompliant, a number of consequences could result:
- A demand letter from a lawyer on behalf of a disabled individual who was unable to access (parts of) your site
- If a third party declares your site noncompliant, you will need to hire a vendor to fix the website ASAP– this is often more expensive than long-term web-design assistance
- You will have to formulate a compliance plan for your company and its digital presence to tackle ADA website accessibility
- Depending on the severity of the noncompliance, you may have to go to court, where the climate surrounding ADA lawsuits can be described as “plaintiff-friendly”
- If your company is found to be in the wrong (which is more likely than not, if your case makes it to court), you may face an injunction, mandatory updates to maintain compliance, settlement fees, mandated policy updates, required employee training and more
The current legal climate is not only in favor of these kinds of rulings, but the amount of lawsuits are expected to increase. Judges are ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, and the Trump Administration has placed regulation of this area on its “nonactive list,” meaning there will be no governmental restrictions on ADA lawsuits against private companies any time soon. Namely, now is a good time to enlist the help of web developers and designers that can help your company meet all website accessibility guidelines and principles. Elite Compliance Programs is passionate about defending the rights of the disabled, while at the same time providing assistance and guidance to business owners. If you want your site to not only be compliant with the ADA’s guidelines, but for it to support the mission of the ADA as well, look no further than Elite Compliance Programs to ensure online access for all possible customers.
“Accessible Design is Good Design”-Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft
Please enter your contact information so that we can share the results of your WCAG 2.0 AA Compliance Summary.
Is Your Business’s Website Susceptible to Lawsuits and Litigation?
- Lawsuits are mounting and are expected to increase
- The Department of Justice has backed ADA Website Lawsuits
- $6,000,000 was the Settlement Cost of a Recent Case
- $50,000+ is the Average Legal Cost to Small Businesses
- 37% was the Increase in ADA Title III Lawsuits filed in 2016
If you’re on this site, you may have received a demand letter from a lawyer or individual, on behalf of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requirements for websites. The ADA states that technological applications must be offered to people equally, i.e. that someone using assistive technology (such as a screen reader) must be able to understand the information being portrayed and use the site accordingly as someone would not using assistive technology.
If a site has been found to not offer this equal access (in compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A/AA), this is where demand letters come in. This is the first step in a headache-inducing process of litigation. However, there is help.
Elite Compliance Programs assist companies identify and remediate non-compliance issues. This can help your company avoid demand letters or help prove that your company is making the appropriate adjustments to its site. One of the best ways we can do this is by performing a WCAG 2.0 A/AA accessibility audit on your website. This is a good place to start and will ensure your site is compliant and conforms with the necessary guidelines.
Elite Compliance Programs provides audit services to help you determine and maintain ultimate website equality and accessibility, as stated in the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Not only can we diagnose any website inaccessibility, we can help to remediate all your digital assets. Our expertise includes:
- Manual website review: In this phase, we will review rendered web pages in a variety of scenarios, with different disabilities in mind, to achieve an accurate equality appraisal.
- Training: We can provide options to help your company’s team learn how to understand and maintain accessible technological programs.
- Remediation support: We can provide business and technical support for all of your company’s accessibility projects.
- Accessibility statement: We can develop and utilize an accessibility statement for your company, showcasing the importance of accessibility to your company and its digital endeavors.
To make sure your company and its digital assets are accessible as possible, some products and resources may help. These may include: automated reports, interactive testing tools and accessibility training.
We will help your company prove compliance under both the Federal Standard Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 A/AA.
Training is also an important part of compliance. Elite Compliance Programs can offer consultation to make your company’s staff and digital presence more compliant and accessible.
Elite Compliance Programs has an expertise and an understanding of the current technological climate and modern accessibility standards. It is our goal for sites to become largely more accessible, in a way that allows all individuals, including the 1 in 5 people with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, neurological and other disabilities, the power to access it with assistive technology.
No matter the industry your company and digital presence entails, you will want to find yourself on the right side of the accessibility guidelines. Elite Compliance Programs will help you navigate an otherwise complex maze of compliance, regulation and logistics. We will provide a complete view of your site’s web accessibility, and help you and your team identify, resolve and prevent any issues.
EXAMPLES OF DEMAND LETTERS
DOES MY WEBSITE HAVE TO BE COMPLIANT?
ALL WEBSITES MUST BE COMPLIANT WITH THE LAWS GOVERNING THE ADA
Recent negative court rulings against businesses have opened the floodgates of “Surf-By” website compliance lawsuits. The ripple effect has begun, and the tidal wave of litigation is fast approaching.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Requires That Your Website Be Accessible to People with Disabilities.
How Do People With Disabilities Use My Website?
Anything That Can Be Heard (Videos, Sound Bites, etc.) Must Have a
Screen Reader Software Audibly Reads the Visual Parts of Your Website. Items Such as Pictures and Buttons Must Have Descriptions Added in the Code.
Website Navigation Must be Possible Without Using a Mouse. This is Accomplished by Utilizing Dozens of Keyboard Shortcuts.
WEBSITE COMPLIANCE IN THE NEWS
Do you think your website designer is a website compliance expert?
If they are… Great! Then your website is compliant, accessible, and usable by all. You may exit this website immediately!
However, you’re here for a reason. Is your designer telling you that your site is compliant and you want reassurance? Is the threat of a potential lawsuit keeping you up at night?
If you know that your designer is NOT AN EXPERT in website compliance, and you don’t want to be sued. We can also help you with this. Click here to submit your website for review.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates by federal law that your website is compliant for use by the 20% of the population with disabilities. This includes giving vision, hearing and physically impaired individuals the ability to navigate and interact with your website.
More than 1 billion people live with disabilities; over 57 million reside in the United States, many of whom are unable to participate in everyday activities, such as using computers, mobile phones, tablets, and similar technologies. Devices that should help to improve quality of life for disabled individuals often become a source of frustration due to the inaccessibility of websites. By making your website ADA compliant, you will gain a new and loyal revenue source, and minimize the possibility of legal action against your company.
Many companies have received lawsuits and demand letters, and it is becoming more frequent. It is extremely expensive to hire an attorney and pay associated fees and costs; this is only to defend your business. There are many additional costs. Recent Well Publicized Settlements:
An example is Patagonia Works, Inc. which had a complaint for a permanent injunction filed against it in the United States District Court stating, Under Section 302(b)(1) of Title III of the ADA, it is unlawful discrimination to deny individuals with disabilities an opportunity to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations, which is equal to the opportunities afforded to other individuals. 42 U.S.C. 12182 (b)(1)(A)(ii). Below is a summary of what the lawyers asked the court for.
Permanent injunction requiring a change in corporate polices to cause Defendant’s website to become, and remain, accessible Noted was that “The ADA expressly contemplates the type of injunctive relief that the Plaintiffs seek in this action.” The Plaintiff’s lawyers stated that “Because Defendant’s Website has never been accessible and because Defendant does not have, and has never had, a corporate policy that is reasonably calculated to cause its Website to become and remain accessible”. Therefor the Court should require that the Plaintiff accept who the Defendant will use to “assist it in improving the accessibility of its Website”, “ensure that all employees involved in website development and content development be given training”, “Consultant to perform an automated accessibility audit on a periodic basis to evaluate if the Defendant’s Website continues to comply”, “Consultant to perform end-user accessibility/usability testing on a periodic basis”, “Consultant to create an accessibility policy”. Although the Lawyers asked the Court for the above, and it would be extremely time consuming and expensive for the Defendant, the very last part of the Complaint was what the Lawyers were after. Here is what the Lawyers asked the Court for:
- Payment of costs of suit;
- Payment of reasonable attorney’s fees, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 12205 and 28 CFR 36.505; and,
- The provision of whatever other relief the court deems just, equitable and appropriate.
The fees, costs and site mitigation associated with this Complaint for Permanent Injunction will likely cost Patagonia Works well over $100,000. This does not include the actual time that owners and managers, and additional employees had to invest.
Damages could be exponentially higher – provisions allow for up to $4,000 for each and every visit to the website or deterred visit.
You must be proactive to potentially avoid spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, along with the cost of reputational damage perpetuated via traditional and social media. ADA Site Compliance can help you mitigate website compliance issues and provide a new revenue stream and significant goodwill.
Website mitigation often leads to “cleaned up code”, improving server load speeds and boosting Search Engine Optimization.
Website must be materially compliant; meaning that if the majority of the site is compliant, a few errors will not render the entire site noncompliant.
The Department of Justice has made clear statements, including in its findings against Harvard and MIT, that the Americans with Disabilities Act covers websites.
Through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our nation committed itself to eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division is proud to play a critical role in enforcing the ADA, working towards a future in which all the doors are open to equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, integration and economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities.
The Department of Justice enforces the ADA through:
- Consent Decrees
- Settlement Agreements
In Andrea Billups’ article, she discusses activities of enforcement by the Justice Department:
The Justice Department has announced that it will intervene in a private lawsuit filed against national tax preparation firm H&R Block, saying its website does not allow sufficient access for people with disabilities.
The department’s motion filed against Block subsidiaries HRB Digital and HRB Tax Group, says the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the Justice Department has ruled applies to websites.
The Justice Department, in making its motion to intervene in the case, says the website “prevents some people with disabilities from completing even the most basic activities on the site.”
“The United States demands that H&R Block is fined a penalty to ‘vindicate the public interest’ and to award money to the individuals who sued the company.The ADA prohibits discrimination of disability by public accommodations in the ‘full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations,'” the Justice Department said in joining the lawsuit.
“Defendants have failed to ensure that [the website] permits accurate and effective communication of the website’s information using, among others, screen-reader software programs, refreshable Braille displays, captioning, and keyboard navigation,” the DOJ’s complaint reads.
The department is seeking a court order in its proposed complaint that makes sure H&R Block’s website provides equal accessibility. It is also seeking monetary damages, noting that by joining the suit, the DOJ “directly implicates the United States’ obligation to enforce the ADA and its interest in ending disability discrimination.”
Your company’s website must remain accessible and ADA compliant, The DOJ is currently reviewing an updated spec of Tittle III. Even if you do not often make changes to your website, any change in current regulations can affect compliance.
As laws, regulations and the political climate changes, remaining compliant is your responsibility. ADA Site Compliance offers detailed daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reporting and mitigation options.
An accessible and ADA compliant website has the potential to increase your sales by over 20%. The market segment of persons with a disability is very loyal to businesses and websites that make legitimate efforts to increase their quality of life. Your businesses social media presence can also be improved as visitors share their favorable interactions with your businesses. Offering your business a significant and fiercely loyal revenue stream.
On the flip side, imagine the damage to your business’s reputation if you are sued due to your website not being accessible to persons with disabilities. Social media creates an environment where compliance issues can go viral. Your business cannot afford this negative publicity, we help prevent it.
Lawyer’s fees, court costs, fines, and settlement costs are extremely expensive. We can help you avoid these costs with implementation of a website mitigation plan. While simultaneously opening a new revenue source of disabled individuals who otherwise may be unable to use your website.
Jim Butler wrote in his article:
My partner Marty Orlick, who heads JMBM’s ADA compliance and defense team, has defended more than 500 ADA claims all over the country. Marty warns that we may be about to see a tidal wave of Cyber Accessibility claims.
Why could there be a big slug of these ADA lawsuits over websites? Marty says that there are several reasons:
- First, these lawsuits will be very easy for plaintiffs to work up. The plaintiffs do not need any site inspection, experts or research. They can just surf the web from the convenience of their homes or offices. Marty says the “surf by” complaints could dwarf the “drive by” ADA lawsuits that looked for missing accessible parking spaces and other readily visible shortcomings.
- Second, some owners and operators have not been paying enough attention to this issue. They have had their attention elsewhere, such as on operating fundamentals, labor costs and ADA pool lift requirements.
- Both the DOJ and private plaintiffs have had tremendous success with website accessibility lawsuits under the ADA (see the discussion below and related articles about the Hilton International consent decree and the Charles Schwab class action case), and they are growing impatient for compliance.
- In addition, a lack of clear industry standards and misinformed marketing staff have lulled some into thinking they are already in compliance when that is not so.
- Finally, some owners and operators have not recognized ADA compliance for the high priority it demands. They have not appreciated how costly ADA litigation and defense can be, and how compliance is so much cheaper than defense.
The landscape of disabled access litigation related to online services has significantly changed and expanded over the past decade. Initially, the internet was an area of little concern as courts uniformly held that the ADA applied to “brick and mortar” facilities, not to cyberspace. This has changed and online accessibility is presently, and will continue to be, an area of significant investigation and litigation.
ADA Site Compliance is committed to helping you mitigate your website compliance issues.
Our team of experienced experts utilizes knowledge and proprietary technology to provide extensive detailed reports on what compliance issues exist on your business’s website. If you have a trusted developer to work on your website, you can have them make the needed updates and changes. Don’t have a developer? ADA Site Compliance offers a custom, managed compliance solution for businesses of all sizes. Our in-house developers will analyze, remediate and monitor your site’s ADA compliance for you.
You must have a compliance plan in place, showing that your business is making an effort to have a fully accessible site. We can provide you with this.