Consequently, the Department intends to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its Title II regulations to expressly address the obligations of public entities to make the websites they use to provide programs, activities, or services or information to the public accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities under the legal framework established by the ADA.
The program generates reports of web accessibility evaluation results and automatically checks single web pages, groups of web pages or web sites and restricted or password protected sites. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, and XHTML. It’s an online service, both hosted service and server installation, and licenses are commercial and enterprise.
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The most recent version 1.1 was released in August 19, 2006. The guidelines covered include WCAG 2.0—W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, WCAG 1.0 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Section 508, and U.S. federal procurement standards. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, and Images. Licenses for the software are commercial, but trial or demo versions are available.
The most recent Version 4.2 was released on March 27, 2013. The guidelines included are WCAG 2.0—W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, WCAG 1.0—Section 508, W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, U.S. federal procurement standards, RGAA, French government standards. HiSoftware generates reports of evaluation results, giving step-by-step evaluation guidance and displaying information within the web pages. Reports are provided in HTML, PDF, and CSV format. The program automatically checks single web pages, groups of web pages or sites, as well as restricted or password-protected pages. Browser plugins include Firefox and Internet Explorer 9.
Today, all modern websites incorporate a diversity of images, graphics, videos, and a plethora of other visual elements. The trouble is that assistive devices like screen readers can’t “read” visuals. That’s why WCAG 2.0 standard stipulates that website developers use alternative text descriptions for all visual elements. These include alt-text, alt-tags, closed caption text, and so forth.
In recent cases, the U.S. Department of Justice has repeatedly sided with plaintiffs arguing that a private company’s website needs to be accessible, despite any other mitigating factors. One thing is for certain, however: The number of federal lawsuits alleging violations of the ADA is currently accelerating at a rapid pace. Between January and August 2017, there were 432 ADA lawsuits filed in federal court—more than the total number of ADA lawsuits in 2015 and 2016 combined.
Develop a plan for making your existing web content accessible. Describe your plan on an accessible webpage, and encourage input on how accessibility can be improved. Let visitors to your website know about the standards or guidelines that you are using to make your website accessible. When setting timeframes for accessibility modifications to your website, make more popular webpages a priority.
DOJ’s September 25 response did not do what the members asked, but it did provide some helpful guidance and invited Congress to take legislative action to address the exploding website accessibility litigation landscape. DOJ first said it was “evaluating whether promulgating specific web accessibility standards through regulations is necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance with the ADA.” (This is helpful – to at least know this issue has not fallen totally off DOJ’s radar.) It continued:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, if the government entities receive federal funding, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 generally require that state and local governments provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of their programs, services, or activities or would impose an undue burden.2 One way to help meet these requirements is to ensure that government websites have accessible features for people with disabilities, using the simple steps described in this document. An agency with an inaccessible website may also meet its legal obligations by providing an alternative accessible way for citizens to use the programs or services, such as a staffed telephone information line. These alternatives, however, are unlikely to provide an equal degree of access in terms of hours of operation and the range of options and programs available.
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