At the beginning of November, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice announced a settlement with Rite Aid Corporation that helps people with disabilities get COVID-19 vaccination information and book vaccination appointments online.
The Rite Aid Covid-19 Vaccine Registration Portal was not accessible to some individuals with disabilities. People who have a difficult time using a mouse or use screen reader software were affected. For example, the Rite Aid website calendar used to schedule appointments did not show available appointment times when a screen reader was used.
Using the tab key rather than a mouse did not allow choosing the consent form to be completed before scheduling an appointment. Equal healthcare access is one of the primary rights the Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees.
As the country continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, people with disabilities require the ability to schedule vaccination appointments as easily as those without disabilities. Rite Aid agreed to make COVID-19 vaccine content, including scheduling forms, conform to Level A.A. of Version 2.1 of the WCAG (Website Compliance Act Guidelines).
WCAG is a set of industry guidelines for making website information accessible to those with disabilities. Rite Aid must test the content pages regularly and fix any problems that keep those with disabilities from using the pages quickly.
Increasing technology makes the internet where people have access to COVID-19 vaccination information and schedule appointments to get the vaccine. From the beginning of the pandemic fight, private companies partnered with the U.S.
With the help of Rite Aid, great strides in the continuing partnership are made. It ensures people with disabilities can schedule COVID-19 vaccinations privately and independently. This matter was handled by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Middle District of Pennsylvania Office.
Public accommodations, such as grocery stores and drugstores, providing those with disabilities equal and full enjoyment of services and goods, like vaccinations are required by Title III of the ADA. A public accommodation that ensures effective communication with those with disabilities that include services and auxiliary aids, such as accessible technology, is required by the ADA.
The settlement reached with the Rite Aid pharmacy chain over inaccessible COVID-19 website pages forces Rite Aid to make and maintain an accessible website for those with disabilities. It affirms the Department of Justice’s stance and sends a message to government entities and businesses that websites are subject to the ADA.
Making Your Website ADA Compliant
If you are unfamiliar with ADA compliance, it means having a website that provides access to a significant number of individuals who suffer from a disability. Without it, you leave your business open to legal action. It may not be your intention to exclude those with disabilities. The fundamental principles of the WCAG focus on items that are
No one should have trouble using the main navigation, search bars, or tools, such as calculators. By adding instructions on how a tool is used, you help everyone take advantage of a website and its features.
An ADA-compliant site must provide all visitors to a website with the same experience. Video transcripts should include all video content instead of bits and pieces. Usually, a manual audit alone is not practical for a business, especially when considering the repercussions of failure to meet ADA standards. Investing in a professional audit ensures a company builds the best ADA-compliant plan.
The WCAG include the following:
- Provide alternative text for non-text content
- Provide multimedia alternative
- Allow information and structure separation
- Distinguish between foreground and background information
- Allow website functions through the keyboard interface
- Give time limit controls to users
- Help users avoid seizure causing content
- Offer ways to navigate, find and use content
- Help prevent and fix mistakes
- Publish understandable and readable content
- Make predictable content placement and functionality
- Support both current and future user agents and assistive technologies
- Ensure content accessibility
How Do You Know if a Website is ADA Compliant?
There are different levels of ADA compliance, each with a set of requirements of its own. They can range from adding closed captions to getting rid of abbreviations in content. To ensure you meet all the ADA requirements, partner with an experienced ADA compliant expert like ADA Website Compliance.
We are a leading ADA website accessibility solution that makes websites compliant and accessible to WCAG 2.1 and Section 508 compliance standards. We offer a free site scan and help avoid lawsuits. Website optimization is required for every type of disability, including visual, cognitive, hearing, and motor impairments, as well as epilepsy. All users need to access your website easily.
A professional audit includes an expert service like ADA Website Compliance to assess the website based on WCAG and recommend a plan to make the site ADA compliant. You receive a trusted and fast solution for updating the website.
Establishing an in-house team or finding time to complete the project can be difficult. You outsource the job to a trusted partner. Every company should think about the return on investment. A non-compliant website is at risk of lawsuits and severe fines. An ADA compliance website agency helps eliminate the risks.
We audit and test all pages and elements of a website. Manual page-by-page analysis and an automated artificial intelligence-powered audit of web effects are offered to find and fix areas in need. Things to do that put you on the path to ADA compliance include
- Alt text
- Video transcriptions
- Links and buttons
All-important images on a website should have alt text to help describe what is in the images. Alt text helps someone using a screen reader to understand your visual content. If a graphic explains how to make something, you should include the alt text, so someone using a screen reader can understand the graphic.
Add names, such as ‘Order’ to controls. Allow decorative non-text to be ignored by assistive technology. Our services include copyrighting for images and complex graphics and page testing with a screen reader.
Any videos on a site should also include closed captions and transcripts. Closed captioning helps people with hearing impairments understand what people are saying in videos. Transcripts also aid screen readers. Link or place transcripts near the video or audio content. Record audio tracks and audio descriptions for videos. Read more about video accessibility.
If a blog post is created or a page has images and videos, include alt text and closed captioning before publishing. You can also publish a transcript as a text or blog post. We offer a transcription audit for videos and audio as part of our ADA compliance service.
Links and Buttons
You want all internet users to be able to navigate a site and convert to different site elements. Any links or buttons should be easy to understand. In a compliant audit, ADA Website Compliance looks at buttons and links to ensure the website elements meet all ADA requirements.
The above list is not complete. Other actions, but not limited to, include
- Uploading an HTML sitemap
- Providing multimedia sign language interpretation
- Ensuring color conveyed information can be seen without color
- Removing background noise from audio
- Customizing background and foreground colors and text spacing and size
- Removing pop-ups
There are numerous ways to make a website ADA compliant. If you need help in making your website ADA compliant, ADA Site Compliance offers a complete service that helps organizations launch and maintain websites that anyone can access. CONTACT US today!
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.