An ADA compliant website is now becoming a major legal vulnerability for multifamily owners. In today’s world, it is not only essential to have a website that caters to everyone, but an ADA compliant website. The rate of ADA-based web lawsuits jumped by 177% from 2017 to 2018 and held steady in 2019. According to the CDC, 25% of American adults – roughly 61 million people – have a disability. Accessibility can be achieved when website content is properly developed so that those with disabilities can fully interact with it.
First, let’s break down ADA compliance for multifamily developments.
Background on ADA Compliant Website:
According to the U.S. Department of Justice websites can be considered “places of public accommodation”. The ADA does not specifically mention websites but the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are put in place for the accessibility standards for web content.
First published in 2008, the WCAG standards define how to make web content more accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities, including auditory, visual, speech, cognitive, learning, language, physical, and neurological disabilities.
In June 2018, WCAG was updated. WCAG 2.1 standards include guidelines on improving web accessibility on mobile devices, as well as for people with low vision and cognitive disabilities.
How To Ensure An ADA Compliant Website in 2021:
- Website Design & Presentation: Website design should use proper markup techniques and have a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 between the background and text. All audio published must have closed captions for voice-overs and the ability to be muted, paused, and stopped.
- User Access, Control & Navigation: Must support keyboard only and can not contain a keyboard trap, where they cannot get out of the component or element through the use of the keyboard. Place navigation links that are consistent throughout the website pages. Throughout the website include search bars, sitemaps, and breadcrumbs for simple navigation. As well as accessibility tools must be incorporated throughout the site.
- Alternatives and Descriptions: Each image on an ADA-compliant website must have a descriptive alt text, audio description, and alternatives like containing as much video or audio content for those who may be hearing or visually impaired.
- Language, Titles, & Text: Every page of the website should have descriptive page titles, anchor text, and consistent language throughout the website.
Don’t Be In The Wrong:
CoStar Case and Why They Were Sued
On May 5th, a federal lawsuit was filed that CoStar Group over accessibility issues with their multi-family listing site Apartments.com. Due to their “failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate its website to be fully accessible to the blind and visually impaired”. The lawsuits do not end with Apartments.com, there are countless multi-family developments and major companies facing federal lawsuits for ADA violations. The ability for one with disabilities to access a website is critical as more of the rental market is shifting its marketing online, providing virtual tours and individuals who may be health compromised during Covid-19.
The number of lawsuits alleging ADA violations by business websites has exploded in recent years and it is time to focus on the reasons these lawsuits were filed and it all comes down to that they are inaccessible.
This is an ongoing issue and websites are living documents that have to be continually updated.
To make sure your website is ADA compliant, follow up with Uncomn Projects – email us at [email protected].