Thursday, August 18, 2022

Clarification on ADA website compliance problem

Recently, you have read about large law firms sending demand letters to banks and other small businesses alleging that the entity’s website does not conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The violation(s) are that such websites are not accessible by either a visually- or hearing-impaired consumer.

“This issue is one about which we are very concerned,” OBA President Roger Beverage said. “The OBA has requested a bill in the upcoming 56th Oklahoma Legislature to give banks and other businesses time to make the necessary adjustments after receiving a demand letter.”

What does it mean to be ADA-compliant? Our thanks to Deb Stewart, an independent banking consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina, who recently wrote an article about this critically important issue that appeared in the ABA Bank Marketing magazine.

Generally, being ADA-compliant “means that people with disabilities can use your website.” Under the Act, banks are considered as “public” entities and that subjects them to the Act’s requirements: provide equal access to the products, services and benefits to persons who have disabilities.

“Such as what?” you may ask. Here are some examples:

Blind, color blind or having some form of impaired vision. If your website is not coded correctly your blind customers will not be able to utilize it;

Deaf or hard of hearing;

Limited mobility or dexterity;

Epilepsy or other nervous disorder;

Having a range of cognitive disabilities.”
“The problem is currently there are no ‘standards’ by which your website must be judged,” Beverage said. “There are ‘guidelines’ but they are just that – guidelines.

Below is the list of requirements your bank is facing that we got from Deb Stewart and the ABA:

Provide text alternatives for non-text content;
Provide captions, audio descriptions and other multimedia alternatives;
Provide adequate contrast between text and background;
Making certain page content is read to the user in a logical order;
All functionality must be available from a keyboard;
No seizure-causing content (less than three flashes);
Provide users enough time to read and use content;
Help users navigate your site and find content;
Make text readable and understandable;
Make content appear and operate in consistent and predictable ways;
Help users avoid and correct mistakes (provide error messages that identify the error and how to fix it); and
Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.

Although this general subject (the ADA) is a matter of federal law, at the state level we have requested a bill that will give a bank or other small business a period of time in which to correct the alleged deficiency. These lawsuits involve injunctive relief, not claims for actual damages.

To read more of Deb Stewart’s well-done article, visit http://ababankmarketing.com/insights/website-ada-compliant.