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The mail-order steak company, Omaha Steaks is seeking a declaratory judgment from a federal court to stop an apparently 'troll-like' ADA lawsuit. Despite the existence of the Americans with Disabilities Act since 1990, business still are regularly sued for violating the nearly three decade old law, even though tax credits and benefits allow compliance to be had on the cheap.
The legal action filed by Omaha Steaks is in response to a letter they received demanding that the mail order steak company update their website to be accessible to those with visual disabilities, which is required by the ADA. While there are currently no definite set of regulations that businesses are required to follow, that does not excuse businesses from being required to ensure that their websites are accessible. However, Omaha Steaks is asking a court to excuse them from liability as they were planning on delaying the update to their website until after the 2018 guidelines are released.
What Does the ADA Require for Websites?
The ADA requires that any business that provides a service, or public accommodation, make that service or accommodation equally available to those with disabilities. Most frequently, ADA business discrimination cases take the form of wheelchair or service animal access. However, in recent years, online equal access has become increasingly important, particularly as the internet integrates more and more into everyone's daily life.
For businesses that have an online presence, it is critical that your website be able to be read by screen-reading software. This is special software that the visually impaired use to navigate on a computer screen, or on websites. Also, the font used should be resizable. Another issue to consider are individuals who cannot use a mouse, or are deaf. Can you website be navigated without a mouse, using only the keyboard? If you have videos or audio on your website, are there subtitles available?
While the W3C guidelines are not the official regulations, they do provide solid guidance on how to provide accessibility online. There is a free online website accessibility checker available, but be warned, it is not for the non-tech savvy. Online ADA compliance can be achieved simply, and if your site is set up properly, it will be easy for you business to stay on the right side of civil rights laws.