Q: Do websites have to accommodate disabled users?
Disability attorneys of Arizona understand the many barriers that the disabled face on a daily basis and work to help them access Federal Social Security disability benefits.
Applying for disability benefits is a complex process and two-thirds of initial applications are denied. Trusting your application for benefits or your appeal of a denial benefits to a skilled attorney may increase the chances of success and allow you to focus on your health or other matters.
Whether you were born with a disability or became disabled during your lifetime as a result of an illness, condition, or injury, you may unfortunately encounter accessibility, prejudice, discrimination, and other challenges as a member of the disabled community.
What types of discrimination do disabled people face online?
One form of discrimination against the disabled is a business website that is non-ADA compliant. Websites and all of the content thereon must be accessible to all visitors. Many blind and deaf people use screen-readers to allow them to shop or access information from business websites, but if the website lacks the necessary HTML coding to communicate with the screen-reader software, the screen-reader cannot relay the information to the disabled viewer.
For example, those who are blind or visually impaired must be able to access the information they can’t see through audio functionality. Similarly, those portions of the website which offer audio or video, must have text and/or subtitles so the deaf or hard of hearing visitors can access that information.
Unfortunately, there are many websites that are non-ADA compliant whether intentionally or unintentionally. Recently, there have been multiple lawsuits nationwide against large and small businesses by disability advocates. These suits—often brought by the hundreds by a single attorney– seek attorney’s fees and compliance within a certain time frame and are generally not for monetary damages (though money may sometimes be paid to the plaintiff in exchange for keeping settlement details private).
Many business owners question the motives of the handful of attorneys bringing hundreds of such suits and are frustrated by three things: (1) not knowing their websites needed to be ADA-compliant in the first place, (2) not being given a warning and chance to become compliant before commencement of litigation, and (3) the lack of clear federal regulations on how websites can become ADA-compliant.
What are businesses doing to avoid making their websites non-ADA compliant?
Despite the lack of definitive regulations, “courts have recognized web accessibility standards called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), created by an international consortium of volunteers”. Among the recommended requirements are that:
- “Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software.
- There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
- Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard as an alternative to a mouse.”
Business owners should not rely on the above recommendations, but rather should always consult their web developer and their attorney for guidance on the compliance issues of their particular websites.
If you need assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled clients and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.