Some people believe that having an accessible website means that it’s ‘live’ and you can access it from a computer or mobile device. Others think about ramps, lifts, access maps and disabled toilets for the physical location that a website might be pointing visitors to. The truth is, being ‘accessible’ online is a whole lot more than that. And that ‘whole lot more’ is simply not clearly understood by the majority of people who build, code, design, write, or project manage websites.
Creating Word documents that can be read and understood by a diverse range of people, is just as vital as creating accessible, inclusive websites and online content. Imagine going to a recruitment website and downloading the Position Description as a Word document, or being sent it as an email attachment, only to find that you cannot access the document using your screen reader (if you are blind or vision-impaired) can’t listen to the linked podcast (if you are Deaf or hearing impaired), or simply can’t understand large sections of it because the document is full of industry jargon that is not explained.
Inaccessible websites are attracting more litigation than ever before. On 15 June 2017 a Federal Judge in California allowed a blind plaintiff to continue his lawsuit against US retailer, Hobby Lobby, on the inaccessibility of their website, overturning the defendant’s demand for the case to be dismissed. This news comes after another Judge, in Florida, found the Winn Dixie retail chain guilty of discrimination for their inaccessible website one week earlier.
In what is set to be a landmark decision with increasingly global implications, a Florida Federal Judge handed down a trial verdict of website inaccessibility finding that Winn Dixie had violated Title III of the ADA by having a website that could not be used by the legally blind plaintiff.