Digital Accessibility

Investing in Compliance vs. The Cost of Non-Compliance

Posted by: 
Adam Spencer
on september 8, 2020 from Oakville, Ontario

The Risk of Non-Compliance (ADA)

In 2019, there were over 11,000 ADA Title III lawsuits filed.  As of 2020, the internet is said to be hosting an estimated 400+ million websites. Understanding that each and every one of those websites that do business in the United States are legally obliged to provide equal accessibility to all, there is indeed a lot of risk (and reward) in ensuring accessibility, and the scope is massive!  If your company is not addressing the document accessibility laws, YOU are at risk of becoming the next company to face a lawsuit.

Does This Affect my Organization?

The simple answer would be YES! Most people don’t realize the extent to which they are leaving themselves exposed. These types of lawsuits have affected all different types of industries with particular focused on:

  • Financial Institutions
  • Insurance companies
  • Accounting firms
  • Wealth management and investment firms
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Airlines
  • Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies

The truth is, you need to address your accessibility issues head on.  It may seem daunting when you take a broad look at the number of documents, statements and reports you have, as it may be in the thousands or in the hundreds of thousands… maybe in the millions. You need a strategy and you need to work a plan.

Why is it Important?

Your website, your digital customer-facing presence online, inclusive of the many documents contained therein, needs to be able to engage and accommodate ALL of your customers (and potential customers) by law.  These days, it is more important than ever to ensure that your organization’s online content is accessible.  When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990, it cemented what was once a mere moral consideration and enshrined it into law, making it an absolute and fundamental requirement to having an online presence.  The accessibility ramps at the physical storefront of yesterday are today’s online necessity.  The trouble is that not every business has taken the steps they need to take to ensure compliance with the law, and some are even taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, crossing their fingers that they won’t be hit with a lawsuit, like many, many businesses have (and there are a LOT of them – see link):

What are the Common Themes Throughout the Lawsuits?

  • Documents are not Tagged / Remediated / Accessible
  • The lack of alt. text ()
  • Features fail to add a label element or title attribute for each field
  • A lack of titles that describe their topic or purpose
  • Headings and labels do not describe topic or purpose
  • Labels or instructions are not always provided when content requires user input

How Do You Fix It?

When the mountain of documents is in the hundreds of thousands, or even in the millions,  your safety from litigation depends on your ability to execute.  That means that you’ll need some technological assistance.

There is a solution that makes high volume and repetitive documents such as statements, notices, bills, letters and other document types into WCAG 2.0 AA and PDF/UA (ISO-14289-1) compliant accessible PDF format. ADStream is advanced technology that incorporates a machine learning approach to understand the semantics, elements, structure, content positioning, font styles, font sizes, logos and other content within a specific document type. The advantage of machine learning is that this state-of-the-art technology remembers the structure of the document and can process automatically. This eliminates manual intervention, minimizing cost and time-consuming processes.

Great, But What’s in it for You as a Company?

Equality, inclusivity and accessibility have always been important. Recent legislation and litigation have recognized the need for access, pushing organizations of all segments and sizes to adopt accessibility strategies.   Barrier-free access for all is not only the right thing to do, it is the law.  No one is immune from scrutiny (unless you are that roadside vegetable stand with no digital presence whatsoever).

So then:  who’s on the hook for accessibility compliance?  A growing mountain of legal precedence is saying that YOU are, and your remediation experts are legally responsible to guarantee that your efforts meet specific regional criteria.  You’ll need a tech partner like AbleDocs with a liability guarantee and unmatched in its combined experience and knowledge in document accessibility.  It makes good sense to choose AbleDocs who will ensure your safety and stand behind what we do with such rock-solid assurance.  AbleDocs is the only organization that guarantees the compliance of every document we produce, and we underwrite that compliance with a $10,000,000 liability insurance policy.

You need to be safe from the dangers posed by litigation.

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