A federal court recently ruled that telephonic access could be an alternative to website accessibility. This is in light of regulations that state a website must be accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with inaccessible web sites making staffed telephone lines available to people who can access the information, goods, and services. A federal district court in Los Angeles last week said a business may avoid the process of making a website accessible IF it provides the same goods and services over the phone, according to Ogletree Deakins.
It’s easier said than done to make goods and services accessible telephonically. Businesses aiming for compliance can take these steps:
- Create a telephone number to take customer calls.
- Ensure staff responding to those calls can provide access to all the same goods, benefits, and services that are offered on the website.
- Make the phone number accessible 24/7, just like a website is. This includes weekends and holidays.
- Place a banner on the website that prominently displays the telephone number using screen reading software. This banner should appear on every page of the website.
Even businesses that are currently taking steps to make their websites accessible to screen readers are wise to adopt these measures during this time of transition. This will fully cover them in compliance either way. Many businesses are facing threats of lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To review, new web accessibility regulations could impact your business greatly, especially if you are the owner of a brick-and-mortar company that must comply with the existing standards created by the ADA. Now, the ADA is imparting regulations for websites through Title III, which means you must comply with standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), says HomeCare magazine.
As with anything else, there are pros and cons to this new proposition, particularly the telephonic accessibility portion.
Through visual and functional accessibility factors, the goal home care websites who alter their standards to honor WCAG is to reach a broader range of clients, boost search engine performance and promote a message of equality. Those with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else to access the same content and receive the same goods and services. It just makes good business sense to start compliance now before rulings are set and you face possible litigation. In other words, complying now will put you in a good light with your client AND save you money on possible future lawsuits. As a home care business, you are obligated more than most other businesses to embrace this initiative quickly and efficiently.
The main con of making websites accessible is the significant cost associated with modifying a website and even adding telephone accessibility due to the increased staffing needs. Because website compliance demands a high degree of specialized expertise to implement, the cost and time factors alone are prohibitive to many businesses, says the American Bar Association. In addition to cost, there are practical challenges to think about as well, such as achieving full accessibility of commercial websites, as web designers who specialize in accessibility are in high demand. Time is a critical factor here.
While no official ruling has taken place on the telephonic accessibility option yet, the shift seems to be moving in that direction thanks to that recent ruling. However, anyone looking to prove they are providing access to the information and services on its website through a telephone line must offer sufficient evidence regarding how this provides equal access, says Seyfarth Shaw.
The other concern for many home care providers is that their websites were built using WordPress. Can those websites be modified to fit upcoming requirements? The answer is YES and we are the ones to do it!
Contact A Servant’s Heart Web Design and Marketing
Let us get going on the process of ADA compliance and telephonic accessibility — affordably and quickly — with your WordPress site. Contact us at (760) 227-2720 for a free consultation…don’t delay: start now!