There have been many reports recently about dentists receiving mail from attorneys in the area, claiming that their websites are in violation of the AwDA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act. They claim that they are in violation because the websites are not able to be accessed by those with blindness or a hearing impairment. The letters state that a payment has to be made in order to avoid a lawsuit, and they also mandate complete compliance with the act.
The amount of claims just continues to go up, and if you have a website, you may also be at risk of receiving one of these letters. Time and money will go into making your website compliant, but it is better to put your money into your website, than into someone elses pockets with no benefit to you.
In the meantime, there are steps that you can take to mitigate the risk
- Create an “Accessibility Link.” This link will tell individuals what to do in the circumstance that they are unable to access the full content of your site due to a disability. Always coach your staff on how to effectively manage these situations. Perhaps they can read the website content to the reader, or provide a video transcript
- Get in touch with your web designer. Let them know that you want your website up to “WCAG 2.0 Levels A and AA” standards. In addition, you need to be able to access and add content yourself. If you are unsure if it complies, take it down.
- Remove, Evaluate, and Replace. If the site is not accessible to all people, or if the designers is not confident in doing it, you can: Temporarily remove the website, have it reviewed by a qualified designer, replace it with a simpler website, or work closely with the designer to incorporate all compliance and features that you want your site to have. Sometimes it is easier to start from scratch.
- Change your Contracts. Ensure that any contract that you sign regarding your website specifically states that you want the site held to “WCAG 2.0 Levels A and AA” requirements.
If you receive a letter, or have been served with a lawsuit:
- Make sure you understand what they are asking for. If it is nothing more than a request for access, simply have your employees respond accordingly. If it is demanding a payment, don’t ignore it. It may have deadlines to follow before a lawsuit is served.
- If you ignore the letter or lawsuit, there are heavy penalties. Take the proactive steps stated above, and speak to a knowledgeable attorney that has experience in the field. Being proactive regarding the situation is the best thing that you can do, and will also limit exposure.