Is ADA Compliance Mandatory for Websites in 2022?
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The ADA is an acronym for the American with Disabilities Act that was enacted in 1990. It makes it unlawful for employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability. It also outlaws discrimination against people with disabilities in federal, state, and local government offices, as well as in public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.
508, on the other hand, is a number that is commonly used in reference to Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that was passed in 1998 and updated in 2001 to include Internet and intranet-based information and applications. The law states that, “websites or other technology can only be considered in compliance if a person who has a disability can effectively use it the same way a non-disabled person can.”
Section 508 requires federal government websites to be safe and accessible for people with disabilities. Section 508 is a federal law, whereas the ADA is a civil rights law. For a website to be compliant with the ADA and 508, it must be accessible to people with disabilities, including those who browse the web using assistive devices.
Would you like to know whether ADA and website 508 compliance is mandatory for all websites and how to get started? Then keep reading and/or if you’d like immediate help with 508 compliance certification and 508 compliance VPAT, contact us online or call us at (626) 486-2201.
To answer the question of whether ADA compliance is mandatory for websites, we’ll look at what the term “mandatory” means in law and look at what the ADA and Section 508 say about it, as well as what other organs that are important in interpreting the law, such as the law courts and the U.S. Department of Justice, have to say about it.
US Legal defines the term “mandatory” as referring to something that is required and not optional or subject to discretion. In the legal construction of statutes, mandatory requirements of law are typically found through the use of words such as “must”, “will”, and “shall”.
So, in determining whether ADA compliance is mandatory for websites in 2022, we will assess whether ADA compliance is discretionary or at the discretion of the website owners. We’ll go through the essential ADA and Section 508 regulations, as well as some of the jurisprudence that separates websites in 2022 from those in earlier years.
The ADA compels all businesses, regardless of size, to make all reasonable measures to accommodate consumers with disabilities. This is a legal necessity, regardless of whether the law provides clarification on what should be deemed reasonable attempts.
In a communication by the U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Stephen E. Boyd to Congress in 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice concurred with this thought by stating that:
“The Department [of Justice] has consistently taken the position that the absence of a specific regulation does not serve as a basis for noncompliance with a statute’s requirements.”
That means that making reasonable efforts, including having public accommodations like websites comply with the ADA for all websites, is not optional but mandatory.
According to Title III of the ADA, the law generally applies to public accommodations, commercial facilities, or private entities that offer examinations or courses related to applications, licensing, certification, or credentialing for secondary or post-secondary education, professional, or trade purposes. This scope is being understood to cover an increasing number of websites, which implies that the lack of discretion regarding websites complying with Section 508 criteria will be more apparent in 2022 than in prior years.
Among the punishments that the ADA provides for violators of ADA compliance 508 is the revocation of federal funding. This means that for organizations to continue receiving federal funds, there is no option but to comply with the ADA and its allied regulations, like Section 508 guidelines and WCAG 2.1.
While Section 508 augments the ADA by broadening the scope of entities whose websites must be ADA compliant to include federally funded non-profits, public schools, public colleges, and universities, it also brings in exceptions that imply not every federal agency has to meet the Section 508 compliance test.
The administrative action relating to the federal government and its agencies procuring products and services that are accessible to people with disabilities, which is articulated through 508 compliance certification requirements during procurement processes, further entrenches the obligation for websites to be ADA compliant because, without compliance, which is evidenced by 508 compliance VPAT, the ratings for your products or services during the procurement processes of the federal government and its agencies will be weakened. There is also evidence that ADA compliance is not optional but obligatory due to the underpinning law on procurement of ICT products and services.
The administrative action relating to the federal government and its agencies procuring accessible products and services for people with disabilities, which is articulated through 508 compliance certification requirements during procurement processes, further entrenches the obligation for websites to be ADA compliant because, without compliance, as evidenced by 508 compliance VPAT, the ratings for your products or services during the procurement processes.
There is additional evidence that ADA compliance is not discretionary, but rather required, as a result of the underlying law governing the procurement of ICT products and services.
In Robies versus Domino’s Pizza, LLC in October 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the ADA regulations be applied to Domino’s Pizza website. This ruling left it to the courts to decide on a case-by-case basis if the ADA regulations should apply to each company’s website. This is why we are saying that in the year 2022, ADA compliance for websites will be even more mandatory compared to previous years.
The avalanche of lawsuits that are being filed against websites that don’t meet the Section 508 guidelines as enunciated in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 and the rate at which the applicants are getting favorable court decisions affirms that ADA compliance is more mandatory for websites in 2022 than it was in previous years.
Contact us online or by phone at (626) 486-2201for more information on how mandatory ADA compliance is for your website and assistance in obtaining your 508 compliance certification. You may also use our Section 508 Compliance Checker to do a free 508 compliance test.