In 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed insuring access to the internet was not a real concern. Unfortunately soon after that there were court decisions that validated the idea that the ADA did not apply to internet access. The federal government is now listening to groups who protect the interests of the disabled. They are finally realizing how much of every-day life is conducted over the internet.
The U.S. Department of Justice has created a set of rules that requires state and local government websites be accessible by individuals with disabilities. In the near future this same level of access is expected to be required of public websites.
In 2006 the chain store Target was sued by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). They claimed Target’s website kept blind people from using it even when they utilized assistive technology. A judge ruled in favor of the NFB saying that ADA applies to websites as they are gateways to brick-and-mortar locations. In 2012 the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sued Netflix because the company didn’t have captions on all of its content. The judge in that case ruled in favor of the NAD stating that ADA accessibility requirements also apply to Internet-only companies.
This has led to many companies seeking out ways to make their websites easily accessible to the disabled. Whet most are discovering is that it’s not too difficult and doesn’t cost them too much. There are many companies around who will provide their expertise in turning a company’s website into one that is ADA compliant.
Once a company’s website is made accessible to the disabled it will have spoken descriptions of images and voice text boxes for those who are blind. There will also be transcriptions of multimedia features as well as captions provided for the deaf.
Companies who have made their websites ADA compliant are finding they have a better reputation with the disabled community and the general public. They are also increasing revenue by providing access to the disabled.