Web accessibility has become an important topic in many organizations in 2014. The winds are changing direction and many factors are moving organizations in business, government and education to ensure that their web sites and documents and forms are accessible. While many organizations have developed accessibility programs and use tools to ensure their web sites are accessible, many others have not yet started. This will change in 2014 due to the efforts of the Federal Government here in the U.S. and many private advocacy groups that are turning to the legal system to ensure compliance.
Even the organizations that have taken steps in the right direction are discovering that they may have overlooked an important aspect to accessibility on their web sites. Documents and forms, typically in PDF format have their own unique accessibility requirements that must be met to ensure your entire web site is accessible.
The biggest change has been around the reinterpretation of the ADA laws. Going far beyond the current Section 508 requirements that have typically only been required of organizations that accept Federal funds, the ADA requirements are far reaching and affect all commercial, public and private organizations in the U.S. Most of us are familiar with the ADA requirements for accommodations for the disabled in new construction such as wheel chair ramps. But the new rulings require that similar accommodations are made for an organizations “virtual” place of public accommodation, such as web sites, software and mobile applications. The recent ruling against H&R Block has far reaching implications for all organizations and businesses in the U.S. as the standard they have been held against can be applied everyone. This ruling is a game changer and will require all organizations to take this seriously and start doing something about web and document accessibility in 2014.
In addition to the risks of legal action by the DOJ, DOT and DOE, on the private front there have been many legal cases brought against organizations in the public and private sector. The National Federation of the Blind along with the American Federation of the Blind have been involved in countless lawsuits against many large organizations related to the accessibility of their web sites, kiosks and learning management systems. Most of these cases are settled out of court at the expense of the organization involved in the lawsuit.
With the risk of legal action increasing and the general consensus that web sites are the new place of business for many organizations, the time to get started on your web and document accessibility program is yesterday. If you’d like to learn more about how you can ensure PDF compliance on your corporate website, sign up for one of our free webinars. You can register here: https://commonlook.com/webinar-registration
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