Nearly all websites in America fail to meet accessibility requirements for people with disabilities.
That’s according to the 2020 Web Accessibility Annual Report which revealed that 98% of U.S.-based webpages are not accessible to the disability community from a legal perspective. The report, compiled by the accessiBe initiative, analyzed more than 10 million webpages to determine their compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (2.1 WCAG).
Non-compliance with the WCAG guidelines in regard to various website components includes menus (98% of websites fail to comply), images (52% fail), pop-ups (89 % fail), forms (71% fail), icons (76% fail), buttons (83% fail), and links (22% fail).
In 2018 the U.S. Department of Justice affirmed that websites are considered a place of public accommodation, and thus should be made accessible in compliance with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In response to these findings, the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability rights organization, has called for all websites in the country to become accessible by the year 2025. The Foundation’s call comes amid this year’s 30th anniversary of the enactment of the ADA.
“During the current pandemic, people with disabilities are already experiencing heightened vulnerability when it comes to their access to medical care as well as social and human services, in addition to the mental health implications of living in isolation due to social distancing,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “In this environment, it is imperative that the internet becomes part of the solution, rather than exacerbating the problem. When they are fully accessible, websites can empower people with disabilities to remain informed, entertained, connected, and often just one click away from receiving the assistance they need.”
Websites’ failure to meet ADA requirements also exposes them to lawsuits. In September 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) affirmed that websites are places of public accommodation and, therefore, must comply with the ADA.
The DOJ’s directive was validated in January 2019, when Domino’s Pizza lost in court to a blind plaintiff who had difficulty ordering pizza because the company’s website was not compatible with standard screen-reading software. Since the landmark Domino’s ruling, tens of thousands of demand letters have been issued to small businesses for violations of the ADA, and Google searches for the ADA and WCAG have risen by more than 400%.