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Web accessibility’s time has come even in politics

Recently, the CEO of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired found she was unable to fully use the website of any of the 2020 candidates for President. Among other reasons to remove the obstacles from their website, the campaigns are employers at a time when employers are seeing website accessibility lawsuits in record numbers.

 

Website accessibility remains important

You may be familiar with the idea of creating websites that are accessible to people with disabilities. If you’re among the 1 in 4 American adults who, according to the CDC, have a disability, you’re even more likely to be familiar with the concept, since there’s a good chance you’ve encountered websites that present you with multiple, needless obstacles.

The Americans with Disabilities Act required businesses serving as “places of public accommodation” to remove barriers to access for people with disabilities.

Access to digital resources in general, including websites, has been discussed by web designers since the ADA was passed in 1990. However, progress toward an accessible web has come in fits and starts, sometimes in a backward direction.

We may have reached a times-up moment. The number of website accessibility lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, filed in federal court in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 went from 57 to 262 to 814 to 2,258, respectively. The flood of suits may force some clarification about the legal status of websites in the ADA.

Presidential hopefuls fail the test so far

None of the websites of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates complied with the ADA, according to an audit conducted by the Miami Lighthouse, a non-profit organization that assists persons with visual impairments. Hopefully, all are now regretting a golden opportunity to stand out from the crowded field as the only candidate up to speed on the issue of accessibility.

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