Lawsuits against businesses for website ADA violations are poised to reach an all time high. With almost 100 lawsuits filed weekly, this is a topic all businesses need to pay attention to now. In March 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that equal access under the ADA covers websites, so it’s expected that this litigation trend will only increase through 2022. But lawsuits aside, providing those with a disability equal access to your digital properties is simply just the right thing to do. So what do businesses who have been keeping up with this topic need to know for the remainder of 2022?
WCAG 2.2 Guidelines Are Coming Soon
WCAG version 2.2 is expected to be released soon and with it, there are several important clarifications that impact site designers, developers, content managers, administrators and compliance teams. These should be followed now in anticipation of these guidelines being official so that no rework is required.
Focus Appearance: The aim of Success Criterion 2.4.11 is to make it easier for the sighted keyboard user to be able to see the active element on a web page. In short, every element that can receive focus must have a plainly visible box surrounding it. Alternatively, a 2-4 pixel block along the short edge of an element or a 3 pixel “underline” under the element are also acceptable. At ZAG, we advocate for a 2 CSS pixel border that has the same color contrast as the element being highlighted, but WCAG is requiring only 1 CSS pixel. It is specified that the border be solid, not dotted.
Minimum Target Size: The aim of Success Criterion 2.5.8 clarifies that any element that one can click or touch must be big enough that imprecise movements do not unintentionally click an incorrect item. Currently, there is a Level AAA Guideline that touch-targets must be 44 x 44 pixels. This new Guideline provides a minimum size of 24 x 24 pixels.
Dragging Movements: The aim of Success Criterion 2.5.7 has to do with drag and drop functionality on websites since that implies increased dexterity not all users have. Website elements like sliders and carousels are impacted by this in that dragging the slide to change to another also requires a single button that accomplishes this, like Previous/Next buttons, for example. If this functionality is a part of another site element, one must be able to use a “single-pointer” method to accomplish what is accomplished by dragging and sliding.
Page Break Navigation: The aim of Success Criterion 2.4.13 applies most to online publications. If long-form content is broken into pages, then those page indicators must be navigable so that one can skip directly to the required content. This criterion doesn’t impact standard website or blog features like blog pagination or search result pages.
Consistent Help: The aim of Success Criterion 3.2.6 is to provide site users with access to help in a consistent location on a website or app. While this is also a design and user experience best practice anyway, this is an important criterion to consider when confirming that a website meets standards.
Visible Controls: The aim of Success Criterion 3.2.7 is to ensure that controls are always visible so that expectations for completing a process are clear and stable. Designers and developers cannot hide a feature (e.g., submit button) to focus the visitor’s attention.
Accessible Site Authentication: The aim of Success Criterion 3.3.7 is to clarify the authentication process when logging into a web service. There must be the option to be able to log into a site using only one's name, email address, or phone number. With two-factor authentication rapidly becoming the norm, this is likely not a high-impact Guideline, but important to note nonetheless. The implication is that anything that requires recollection of something (e.g., password) can be difficult for those with a cognitive disability. Importantly, this guideline only applies to authenticated experiences, not form submissions with anti-spam features like a CAPTCHA.
Avoid Accessibility Widgets and Overlays
Thus far in 2022, we continue to learn that that accessibility widgets and overlays are not a viable solution for making a site truly accessible or avoiding a lawsuit. If the large number of lawsuits year to date for sites using these overlays/widgets are an indicator, investing in these types of solutions is merely a band aid at best, and do not measurably benefit site owners or users. Instead, a business or organization must take the steps to make the design and coding changes against current guidelines.
Some Industries are Targeted More Than Others – But All Should Be Concerned
Tracking lawsuits so far in 2022, it’s clear that certain industries are targeted more than others. If you are an eCommerce site for example, you have a very high probability of being targeted by ADA lawsuits. In fact, 10% of the top 500 e-commerce retailers received a lawsuit in 2022 alone, and 4 out of 5 of those retailers have been sued for ADA violations in the last four years. Other industries like banking/financial services and healthcare are also ripe for ADA-related litigation. Additionally, the size of a business doesn’t have a correlation to whether or not ADA lawsuits should be a concern. Smaller businesses that don’t feel like the rules should be of a concern to them should rethink that assumption because the lawsuit data very much suggests otherwise.
Have a Website ADA Plan in Place?
If your business doesn’t currently have a plan in place to make and keep your website compliant, the experienced team at ZAG Interactive is here to help. Contact us to discuss your specific needs and we can help you maximize your digital presence to offer a fair experience to all users, and avoid expensive litigation.