Audit season is in full swing. Businesses now are working with auditors on their tax and other audits to ensure compliance with various financial regulations. But there is one audit that many businesses have yet to undertake and have continued to miss over the last few years: the accessibility of their website. Many businesses continued to be stunned when receiving a demand letter relating to their websites. Last year, we brought news regarding the developments relating to website accessibility under the ADA and its enforcement efforts. Since that time, a new presidential administration has emerged with a set of enforcement priorities that differ from the previous administration. Previously, the DOJ estimated that web accessibility standards for private businesses would be released during its 2018 Fiscal Year, but in this new administration, the DOJ’s tabled projects may be further delayed—including those relating to website accessibility.
Don’t mistake the DOJ’s delay to mean that you should further delay your own accessibility audit. As a start, business have made use of web tools such as the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool to provide a cursory, preliminary audit to determine where accessibility issues may lie. This audit will give a glimpse into the conversation that businesses will need to have with web accessibility experts and their internal web developers to determine a remediation plan. In light of the expansion of coverage of websites under the ADA, the time is now for an audit of your website to work toward compliance. As you begin your work toward compliance, be mindful of the continuing developments in web accessibility standards. The World Wide Web Consortium, commonly known as the W3C, is working to further refine its standards on website accessibility to account for improvements made in technology. In late 2016, the W3C announced that it was working to update the standards under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”), Version 2.0. In the W3C’s pipeline is a Version 2.1 of the WCAG, and is designed to build upon the technological standards under Version 2.0, which originally was developed in 2008.