It wasn’t until I interviewed a media agency that was I made aware of the term/acronym, WCAG, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines were developed to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities as it relates to web content, the basic information such as text, images and sounds. The WCAG is a division of the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act that was introduced in 1990, that provides a voice for citizens with disabilities providing them more access to places of businesses, government, worship and education. The foundation of the WCAG focuses on perceivable, operable, understandable and robust standards as it relates to website content, if any of these principles are not met, users with disabilities will be unable to utilize their website. With digital having such a large presence, it was very surprising to me, being in the digital space for so long, that I was not familiar with this term prior to this year and I wonder how many people and organizations are.
The media agency I spoke with, also informed me that a very large client of theirs had a lawsuit filed against them because their brand’s website did not meet the WCAG standards. This also happened with Netflix and Target,in 2012, a lawsuit was filed against Netflix by the National Association of the Deaf, as it was not providing closed captioning for the deaf or hearing impaired, not permitting them to enjoy the content like everyone else. Target also had their fair share of bad publicity and legal troubles, in 2006 the National Federation of the Blind, filed suit against Target claiming that the Target.com was not accessible to the blind.
Federal agencies are required to conform to WCAG, however for private business it is little more complicated, technically by law they are not required to comply with WCAG, however their websites do have to be accessible.
Currently about 10% of the worlds’ population live with some type of disability, that is equivalent to about 650 million people. This groups represents the world’s largest minority group-amazing that with such a large share these folks are not being represented in the digital arena. People living with disabilities are consumers too. This makes me wonder how many other companies out there develop websites not aware or not having these guidelines in place or do not want to take the time or spend the money to enhance their websites based on these guidelines until a lawsuit has been provoked.
Becker, John (May 4, 2020) Website accessibility: Is your company at risk for an ADA-compliance lawsuit? https://www.impactplus.com/blog/website-accessibility-ada-compliance-2020
National Federation of the Blind v, Target Corp.