Website accessibility lawsuits in the United States are becoming more common. Website compliance standards are relatively new; at the very least, enforcement of these standards is just beginning to impact site owners.
In fact, industry analysts note that the number of web accessibility lawsuits brought by the federal Government has grown 19.8% this year and that retailers account for 73.7% of digital accessibility lawsuits.
If you’re found to violate ADA compliance, your first violation may result in a penalty of $55,000 to $75,000. Subsequent violations can result in a $150,000 fine.
Creating or updating a site to reach the point of accessibility must be a priority for site owners.
Including Those With Disabilities
How To Include People With Disabilities
Changing Our Culture & Priorities
⇓ ⇑ Communicate from the top that all people, including people with disabilities, have value and are respected and openly welcomed.
This may seem obvious but making the extra effort as it pertains to people with disabilities is important. It should be part of the organizational DNA. Your senior leadership, and staff need to be explicit about the importance of fully including people with disabilities. Websites and all other materials should clearly communicate that disability inclusion is a part of the organization’s vision, mission, and values. It should be an intentional consideration at every stage, not merely assumed or tacked on as an afterthought. Inclusion of all people should be a core consideration of policies, budgets, staffing, recruiting, and planning. Organizations should regularly and repeatedly state that people of all races, ages, abilities, sexual identities, gender orientations, faiths, and other backgrounds are welcomed. These declarations can be made out loud by leadership as well as in publications and on social media. It also must be clear in both word and deed that should the organization or any of its employees, events, or materials make anyone feel unwelcome or inequitably treated, they want to know about it right away, and it will be addressed. (And then of course, follow through on that promise).
⇓ ⇑ Acknowledge, understand, and embrace the widespread nature of disability. Disability touches every demographic category – gender, age, race, sexual orientation, etc. and impacts most people eventually through accident, illness or aging.
56 million Americans have a disability. When you include the loved ones of people with disabilities, according to polls. the size of the extended disability community is 63 percent of Americans. Some people have disabilities from birth, while others acquire them due to accident, aging, injury, or illness. Certain disabilities are obvious because they require use of a wheelchair or have noticeable physical attributes. However, most disabilities, including those related to learning, attention, mental health, or chronic pain, are invisible and many people with invisible disabilities are still “in the closet” due to stigma. For example, it may not be apparent to you that a longtime board member or large donor is hiding progressive hearing or vision loss, or that a coworker lives with depression, anxiety, or chronic pain. Keep this in mind when considering inclusive practices, as they matter as much for your board room and your office as for public events. Remember that each grant you make, every program you manage, and all events your organization holds or supports are likely to touch people with disabilities. For groups focusing their good work on marginalized populations, this is particularly important. While disability impacts people of all backgrounds, people with multiple marginalized identities (i.e. people of color and/or English language learners who also have a disability) face double discrimination. They are more likely to experience homelessness, live in poverty, or become incarcerated. By incorporating best practices for intersectional issues, you are more likely to increase your success and theirs. out loud by leadership as well as in publications and on social media. It also must be clear in both word and deed that should the organization or any of its employees, events, or materials make anyone feel unwelcome or inequitably treated, they want to know about it right away, and it will be addressed. (And then of course, follow through on that promise).
⇓ ⇑ Walk the walk (or roll the roll) and help your grantees and members do the same.
You would not fund programs or sponsor events that deny access to women or people of color and the same should be true for discrimination against people with disabilities. Just one out of five organizations (20 percent) represented in our survey ask their grantees or members to include people with disabilities in their work. Funders can make a big impact by encouraging or requiring that organizations intentionally include the 1-in-5 people who live with some form of disability, by making their work accessible and by helping them budget accordingly.
⇓ ⇑ Make sure people with disabilities are part of the solution.
People with disabilities are ready to contribute their lived experiences to problem-solving and deserve a seat at the table. Because one out of every four adults in America has a disability (including physical, sensory, cognitive, mental health, or other disabilities), it should be a part of your practice to make sure the disability population is represented in leadership and throughout the staff. Our research shows that doing so is a key component to doing better on disability issues across the board. People with disabilities have valuable insight and experience to share as it pertains to disability inclusion (as well as to every other issue apart from disability). Just like when organizations take on issues that affect people of different racial, ethnic, or other backgrounds, people with disabilities should be involved in working on matters that impact them.
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