2014 is shaping up to be an important year in the efforts to ensure that web sites are accessible. PDF documents have served as the standard for electronic documents for the last 20 years. While other formats are available to use, the world turns to PDF for the many advantages that only the PDF format provides. Growth in PDF usage on internet web sites continues at a record pace and the PDF format outpaces other formats as you can see by the chart below.
While the U.S. Federal requirements for 508 Compliance have been out for many years, these regulations have not applied to Corporations and Enterprise organizations. The driver for moving corporations to ensure their web sites are accessible has come from the civil lawsuits filed by organizations such as the National Association of the Blind (NFB) and similar advocacy groups. There have been several famous cases including one with Target Corporation and similar settlements with Charles Schwab and RiteAid to name just a few. More examples can be found at Lainey Feingold’s site at http://lflegal.com/category/settlements/ . But while these high-profile cases have made headlines, it has not been effective in compelling all organizations to start addressing the problem.
What will make 2014 an important year in accessibility compliance is a recent ruling by the Department of Justice. This ruling is a “game changer” in that the DOJ has now ruled against a company and settled a lawsuit on the behalf of the NFB. For the first time, the DOJ has applied Title III of the ADA and ruled that a company’s web site is now legally considered “a place of public accommodation”. The Consent Decree details are listed here http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/March/14-crt-239.html .
This new interpretation of the ADA laws will be wide reaching and every corporation and enterprise organization should take notice and start working on ensuring their web sites and documents are accessible and meet the 508/WCAG 2.0 AA requirements. Many organizations have taken steps to ensure that their web site (HTML) content is accessible but many organizations have ignored the growing problem of document accessibility. Going forward that will need to change or enterprise organizations run the risk of lawsuits as the effects of this recent ruling are better understood.
If you would like to learn more about how you can ensure PDF compliance on your corporate website and intranet, sign up for our free webinar, “Fundamentals of PDF Accessibility for Enterprise”. You can register online here!