The Dismantling of Civil Rights Protections Continues

Kim Krause Berg  

“The most significant shifts in civil rights enforcement in generations”

While the country is distracted with unrest associated with the ending of the Trump administration, the public was excluded from the Justice Department’s request to change Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits recipients of federally funded housing programs, employers, schools, hospitals, and other organizations and programs  from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.

The New York Times reports that, “The Trump administration has embarked on an 11th-hour bid to undo some civil rights protections for minority groups, which could have a ripple effect on women, people with disabilities and L.G.B.T. people, according to a draft document, in a change that would mark one of the most significant shifts in civil rights enforcement in generations.”

Instances where a policy or practice has a “disparate impact” on minority or other groups will no longer be enforced if this change passes. A disparate impact includes employment practices that may appear to be neutral but result in the elimination of minorities or other discrimination.

Related civil rights infringement changes include the removal of affirmative action guidelines by the Justice Department and President Trump’s executive order to remove diversity training programs.

Source: New York Times

Website Accessibility Design Does Not Disregard This Human

Website Accessibility Design Does Not Disregard This Human

Kim Krause Berg  

Web accessibility may sometimes be the road less traveled. The only way we can truly invent technology to provide equal access to the web is to experience being shut off from it.

This Person Is Not Welcome

This is the pain point from websites developed for a small percentage of humans disguised at perfectly abled. There is no such thing as a limitless human.

It makes more sense to meet everyone else on the planet.

How do you design to accommodate them? The strongest super powers we can possess are compassion and empathy.

The road less traveled is design for accessibility.

Web designers and developers can’t learn how to meet accessibility compliance success criteria and best practices if management and key stakeholders shove inclusive design to the side. There are maddening myths still held to this day that:

  1. Everyone has access to and can use the web.
  2. Everyone can use their website, software or mobile app.
  3. Everyone will share their website, software or mobile app.

Whatever gave them those ideas? Why are civil rights hard to understand?

What would make a company choose to disregard anyone wishing to use their digital product or website?

Missed Opportunities

Persons with disabilities are not waiting around for businesses to figure out they are using the web. They find, use and share digital services built to include them.

It does not make business sense to ignore an enormous segment of the world’s population (20% globally), or even the simplest of human physical hurdles that come with aging such as eyesight, hearing and mobility.

  • Test your colors. Do they pass color contrast tests? Avoid light gray text.
  • Allow text to be magnified on mobile devices. Avoid tiny text.
  • Add clear focus state identification for people who navigate without a mouse.
  • Add proper alt text to images. Use the Alt Decision Tree to help you.

Sure, these criteria are basic. But, it’s these basics that are common WCAG2.1 failed success criteria errors found during accessibility testing. Automated testing does not catch all accessibility errors. Manual testing is necessary.

Testing with assistive devices that persons with disabilities rely on must be part of every business plan if a digital product is planned.

Companies that pretend to care about accessibility buy accessibility products with impossible claims such as preventing ADA lawsuits and using AI to make web pages legally compliant. This is an impossible claim.

Web accessibility may be an entirely new way of design thinking for some folks. It means getting out of your personal mini-world. Learn about the folks who are pushing back against the barriers thrown up when they try to read a page, use a form, or experience a video or podcast their way.

Nobody should be left out of the online user experience.

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Make Accessibility Your New Year’s Goal for 2021

Kim Krause Berg  

CYA: Avoiding Legal Pitfalls with Your Website

Please join Kim Krause Berg and Ruth B. Carter, Esq. on January 12, 2021 at the SEJ eSummit 2021, where we are presenting a joint session on ethical website practices.

My presentation, How to Avoid Website Accessibility ADA Lawsuits, will cover the alarming rise in website ADA accessibility lawsuits, common reasons why online businesses are targeted and three actionable steps to take to help prevent them.

YouTube Promo Video for SEJ e-Summit Session by Kim Krause Berg

Register for the SEJ eSummit 2021 today. We are planning a highly informative session for business website owners, developers and anyone interested in protecting their website assets. There will be a live Q&A, so bring your questions.

Shoot First Drive-By Website ADA Accessibility Lawsuits Are Mean Spirited

Shoot First Drive-By Website ADA Accessibility Lawsuits Are Mean Spirited

Kim Krause Berg  

It would seem as though the latest craze in the USA is beating up people and businesses when they are already down. Small businesses are truly struggling to survive.  Suing them for failing to provide an accessible website, without forewarning, is ruthless and unacceptable.

Drive-By ADA Lawsuits Give Accessibility a Bad Reputation

Accusing a small business website owner of failing to serve your needs by slapping them with a lawsuit as your introduction is insensitive and cold-hearted.

When law firms represent unscrupulous, mean spirited plaintiffs who file bulk accessibility lawsuits, it’s obvious that helping disabled website visitors is not the motivating factor.

The latest example of drive-by ADA accessibility lawsuits made the news recently when a blind man from Colorado,  David Katt, who is represented by  New Jersey law firm, Marcus & Zelman, filed over 50 lawsuits against small businesses in Colorado.

The Colorado businesses claimed there were no requests or correspondence between the plaintiff  to the business owner, who may not be aware there is an issue. Most businesses with websites are happy to help when given the opportunity.

Shoot first drive-by ADA lawsuits are unfortunately common practice. It’s unkind and unethical.

Accessibility professionals do not support attack first, remediate later demands.

Small Businesses Can’t Afford to Be Sued

An ADA lawsuit for a website is the kiss of death for a small online business, or startup. As much as accessibility advocates try to educate anyone considering owning a website for their business, the reality is that most view accessibility as not important, too expensive to implement, or is taken care of automatically by their theme, host, plugin, or widget.

It’s a shock when they learn their website may be legally required to meet accessibility compliance. In countries where accessibility laws are yet to be created or enforced, other laws addressing equal rights and non-discrimination may apply.

Website Owners Are Responsible for Their Websites

Passing the buck is not helpful.  

Owning a business anywhere is a venture that includes protecting your assets, meeting local, state, and federal laws, and providing a safe and secure customer experience. This is true for brick and mortar businesses as well as digital.

However, with websites, there is no insurance company that will cover you if you are sued for not having an accessible website.

There is no protection if you rely on poor advice such as accessibility plugins and widgets that do not require a business to build an accessible website.

User friendly websites do not exclude people with disabilities who require the use of assistive devices such as screen readers.  Research into how we use websites has shown that many people find that simply changing their accessibility settings on their computer devices helps them read, listen or browse in various environments where it is better to turn off the sound or the lighting makes reading difficult.

In other words, web accessibility is not just another set of laws or policies to be enforced.

Inclusive web design practices provide conveniences that everyone can enjoy.

Be Proactive with Website Accessibility

There is no substitute for accessibility testing.

Should your business be sent a demand letter or served with an ADA lawsuit, it helps you to have your ducks in a row by providing proof that your website was tested by an accessibility specialist or is in the process of remediation.

Educate yourself on website accessibility by seeking out trusted professionals who work in the field.

Avoid unscrupulous marketing tactics designed to scare the hell out of you.

Accessibility advocates are ready to help you make your business a success and will fight for you because they care.

Photo Credit by Scott Graham on Unsplash