Are ADA Compliance and WCAG Conformance Impossible? “Your Website Will Never Be ADA Compliant”

I occasionally come across the defeatist notion that it’s impossible to make our websites WCAG conformant, or that we will never make our website ADA compliant. And I completely disagree. When it comes to WCAG conformance, what this really amounts to is a list of 50 things that we need to account for, and it’s really a matter of going down the list.

And so when someone says it’s impossible, sometimes it’s because that content is constantly being uploaded. Well, then you still just go- you make sure that for content that’s being uploaded, or changes that are being made to the site that you address and account for and incorporate all of the accessibility considerations in that new code or in that new content. And that’s really all it comes down to.

So when it comes to content and code that you can control, saying that WCAG conformance is impossible really comes down to you’re not trying hard enough.

And that’s it. It’s really just a matter of lack of effort, because you have- if you’re diligent, and you take a regimented approach, this is going to happen.

Now you do have to have the skillset to make it happen, but it will still happen as long as you put forth the effort. Now when it comes to third party integrations, that may delay the process, but you can still know what third party integration you’re using, what accessibility issues that it is creating, and have that as something that you can work on in the future.

You can know the issues that exist; you can push the seller of the integration to make those changes, and or you could source to a new seller and integrate a new product into your website. So it may not be possible right now because of a third party integration, but it can certainly be done. And I’m aware of this firsthand, for one, because of Stripe, right. Stripe introduces some color contrast issues that I know about.

So it’s not that I’m saying you can instantly make your website WCAG conformant, but it’s not- the idea, hearing that people say it’s impossible, that’s not true.

And when it comes to never having a website never be ADA compliant, well, of course, we don’t know exactly- we don’t have a set of regulations that we can look to, and or we don’t have an amendment to the American with Disabilities Act that states out exactly what needs to be done to make a website ADA compliant.

But we do have settlement agreements from the Department of Justice that we can look to. And this settlement agreements were the basis of my book, and the settlement agreements tell us what the DOJ is looking for the DOJ regulates and enforces Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

And Title III is what most of you watching this video are concerned about, because that affects private entities. And with Title III enforcement and Title II, what the DOJ continually requires in settlement agreements for material compliance is hosting an accessibility statement that has contact information and invites feedback, and then also- so the contact information is for assistance.

And it’s a fairly basic accessibility statement, but they require at least those two things. And then they also require that you make your website WCAG conformant. Now an older settlement agreements, the version of WCAG was version 2.0.

Sometimes they left out the conformance level, but it’s always presumed that it’s AA, and then a newer settlement agreements over and over again. It’s been WCAG 2.1 conformance level AA, and so those are the best practices for ADA compliance.

Now we can fall back on- currently we can fall back on well, we don’t know what it is, okay true, but I would- you would be would be extremely hard pressed to find a website that was fully WCAG conformant and had a strong accessibility statement that wouldn’t be considered ADA compliant.

I don’t know how you- what would you say, how would you say that website is not ADA compliant? And that’s what I’m getting at when someone says well, you’ll never be ADA compliant.

I can understand the difficulties and the practical side of buildings and other things. But when it comes to websites, if your website is fully WCAG conformant, and you have an accessibility statement, how would you not be ADA compliant? And so that’s what I’m getting at.

So when I think people- when people say that, I don’t think they know what they’re talking about. I don’t think they are considering all of the information that’s available.

And I have, I’ve lived through those DOJ statements. The DOJ is the regulatory and enforcement agency behind the American with Disabilities Act. If this is- if we know what they are requiring for entities that they consider to be- to have non-compliant websites, then what else would there be?

Now there maybe something that comes additional in new regulations or a new amendment, but I still don’t know what that would be. Because when we look at
material compliance, it really just comes down to making sure that your website is accessible.

And then with the statement, making sure that if someone needs assistance or someone would want to provide feedback, then that- contact methods are available to do that, but otherwise, what is there to do? So it’s not easy to do, but it’s fairly simple. ADA compliance is actually fairly simple. It comes down to those two things.

Now there are other conditions that are mandated in these- there are other stipulations that are in the settlement agreements, but they don’t speak to material compliance. What they speak to is how you reach material compliance and how you stay in compliance.

So when we look at stipulations in the DOJ settlement agreements, like hiring a third party consultant, and having a website undergo user testing, these are not what is considered ADA compliance. These are the DOJ making sure that the website is compliant.

So I don’t think these things would be necessary in any forthcoming regulation or amendment. But as it stands, what else can you do? right, because we’re working with an incomplete information, so this is all we can do, this is the best we can do.

But it’s right in front of us, and this is known, and this is why I completely disagree when someone says ADA compliance is, you can never be fully ADA compliant. Well, when it comes to a website, I disagree.

I think that if you did that- and the DOJ has stated that we have flexibility in how we comply with the ADA so long as we comply. Now again, WCAG conformance requires effort.

There’s no way around that I’m not saying that this is easy, or that resources aren’t involved; they certainly are. But when we talk about cannot be ADA compliant and WCAG conformance being impossible, I completely disagree.