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Website ADA Compliance - Lawsuits Coming (is your site built for the blind)

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Getting Refreshed
May 24, 2017
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Jason
A couple of dealers we know received a notification that their website is not ADA compliant and may face a pending lawsuit...others in the industry have confirmed that they too have received a similar notice.

If anyone is not familiar with ADA compliance - it is an ambiguous regulation regarding discrimination of websites/apps with regard to disabled individuals including those that are blind.

Was going to ad a screenshot of the letter but decided not to.

Here is an article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/do-protections-for-people-with-disabilities-apply-online-dominos-asks-high-court/2019/07/20/984c685e-a7fd-11e9-a3a6-ab670962db05_story.html?noredirect=on
 
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Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
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At the risk of being a non-PC bastard, I must admit that I am torn on this issue for car dealers. How many blind people are driving?
 
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craigh

Super Moderator
May 19, 2011
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The ADA is a scam that lets these organizations sue big powerful corporations and force them to pay fines.

https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/lawsuits-surge-over-websites-access-for-the-blind-11550415600
Lawsuits Surge Over Websites’ Access for the Blind
Complaints are new frontier in federal disability litigation, typically detailing roadblocks for ‘screen reader’ tools that read content aloud

https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/149369/exploiting-americans-disabilities-act-arnold-ahlert
Exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act
How Congress helped created a frivolous lawsuit racket.

https://nationalvanguard.org/2017/12/nyc-400-discrimination-lawsuits-filed-by-just-five-litigants/
NYC: 400 Discrimination Lawsuits Filed by Just Five Litigants
 
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reverson

Jr. Refresher
Mar 21, 2012
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Official non-answer answer from NADA regarding this topic

During the past month, NADA Regulatory Affairs received several inquiries from dealers and ATAEs regarding e-mail marketing pieces issued by a large dealership website development/management vendor to its clients that focused on dealership website accessibility for the disabled community under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). As you may know, the larger dealership website vendors work with their clients on both their OEM mandated/compliant websites and their store-specific and portal (multi-brand) “retail” websites.

Several of the larger website vendors have formed a business relationship with a company called Audioeye to offer their dealership clients an optional website accessibility “add-on” product. The Audioeye product works with the architecture and content of a dealership’s website to enable members of the disabled public to access its functionality in a manner akin to how nondisabled folks do. The Audioeye technology then periodically audits the website for ongoing accessibility. In addition, websites are periodically tested by members of the disabled public working on behalf of Audioeye.

At present there are generic non-governmental standards that address website accessibility, but there are no specific federal legal guidelines that serve as a “safe harbor” as to how a dealership should make its websites accessible to the disabled public. NADA believes that such a “safe harbor” is warranted given the considerable number of private legal actions involving banks, retailers (including dealers), and other public-facing businesses where claims have been made that a failure to make a website accessible constitutes a violation of the ADA.

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which has jurisdiction over ADA public accommodation matters, issued a notice indicating its intent to clarify the degree to which businesses must make web information and services accessible. However, that proposal was withdrawn in December of 2017. In the interim, several case decisions at the federal district and appellate court levels have clouded the legal/compliance landscape. Consequently, NADA has been working with several business organizations with the aim of getting the DOJ to issue website accessibility “safe harbor” guidance.

Given that website vendors and vehicle manufacturers have begun to offer website accessibility products, dealers should consider (at least) the following when evaluating whether to invest in such products:

1. Will investing in website accessibility lead to an increase in business?

2. Will investing in website accessibility reduce significant risks of legal liability, out-of-pocket legal costs, and related negative publicity? This evaluation should be made in conjunction with dealership legal counsel and insurers.

NADA Regulatory Affairs intends to provide more specific guidance on the ADA’s application to dealership website accessibility in the future. Until then, feel free to contact either Doug Greenhaus or Kaye Lynch-Sparks at 703-821-7040 or [email protected] should you have any questions.
 

reverson

Jr. Refresher
Mar 21, 2012
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Personally, we’ve decided not to sign up with a service like Audio Eye because if a handicapped person has software on their computer it will be able to read most dealership websites and images (assuming alt tags are setup).

AudioEye is primarily if a customer doesn’t have similar software on their computer already so we are providing it to them on our website instead.

The analogy I give is it’s essentially like if we were a retail store, we provide a wheelchair friendly entrance and aisles for them to use their wheelchair in, but don’t actually have to provide the wheelchairs because we assume a handicapped person would already have one...
 

Brittany

Getting Refreshed
Jun 25, 2019
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The analogy I give is it’s essentially like if we were a retail store, we provide a wheelchair friendly entrance and aisles for them to use their wheelchair in, but don’t actually have to provide the wheelchairs because we assume a handicapped person would already have one...
I totally agree on this one. I don't understand why it's up to every individual business to create a way for those with handicaps to utilize their website when it's much more productive and makes more sense for there to be a software that does it for every website. A Google extension or the sort perhaps, or even a computer software in general. It doesn't make sense for everyone who owns a website to try and do; what happens to small business and even blog owners? That's discouraging on so many levels, and it's just redistributing the issue instead of fixing it.
 

craigh

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May 19, 2011
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I totally agree on this one. I don't understand why it's up to every individual business to create a way for those with handicaps to utilize their website when it's much more productive and makes more sense for there to be a software that does it for every website. A Google extension or the sort perhaps, or even a computer software in general. It doesn't make sense for everyone who owns a website to try and do; what happens to small business and even blog owners? That's discouraging on so many levels, and it's just redistributing the issue instead of fixing it.
If your website is setup properly, this solution you propose would work.
The reality is that not all websites are setup properly, which is why the ADA got involved in the first place.

Many modern homepages, when reduced to only screen reader text, have very few words, dropdown inputs with no labels, etc.

For example, these inventory filters have no labels, so the screen reader relies on the title="" attribute of each input to identify it.
The problem is that, in this example, the Type dropdown doesn't have that attribute, which means even if the person has a screen reader, it will have no way to tell the user what that field is used for, because the way they "labeled" these fields is just by presetting the value of the input to "Type". This isn't standards compliant or accessible, but it looks great.

upload_2019-8-13_11-52-9.png

upload_2019-8-13_11-56-59.png
 

Brittany

Getting Refreshed
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@craigh That makes much more sense as an issue. The way it's being reported on isn't giving information that highlights the true problem, so I'm glad that there's an actual solution that's in place.

Hm, news articles not giving full coverage about an issue? Totally surprising.
 
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Jason

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Having put together some of the internal training docs for our team at DI regarding AudioEye, I ended up learning more about the subject of web accessibility than the average bear. In the name of disseminating information, I thought I'd share this 2m12s vid from AudioEye that does a fine job of explaining its place your digital ecosystem.


Also, if you want to get an idea of what types of websites are actively using AudioEye's tech, just search the Google machine for "explore your accessibility options" with the quotes. Hope that helps!
 

JamieS

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At the risk of being a non-PC bastard, I must admit that I am torn on this issue for car dealers. How many blind people are driving?
Oh, I got one that will make you fall out of your chair. A high-end prescription eyewear company in South Florida was sued by somebody that was visually impaired. No, I am not sh*tting you.

The main things are (in no particular order);
-An accessibility statement
-Alt tags on images/banner (Think all of your content needs to be able to be read by a machine)
-Navigate via TAB (if you have a NAV menu with a dropdown and can't get to the sub-pieces by tabbing, you will fail this easily). Many of our SRP inventory filters are not going to pass this.
-Contrasting colors have to meet a certain requirement or level of contrast
-Videos must have a pause function

Some of the popular 3rd part ADA scripts are not even compliant themselves but seem to keep lawyers away, accessibe comes to mind. There's another with quite the list of ADA experts trashing it as not even being compliant, but I can't recall the name. It isn't audioeye.

What's important when you start looking into this is that you do not bother thinking about this logically. You will just waste your time. It is not about the consumer, it is about the legalese that right now is poorly defined and being taken advantage of.

On the flip side, some of these firms that are pushing these suits are starting to lose when countersued. Especially when they're hitting hundreds of local businesses. The problem is, and obviously the lawyers know this, is that most local businesses are just gonna pay the ransom, pardon me, I mean settlement. Down here what I've been hearing is $8,500 and they leave you alone. And I mean they completely disappear (shocker!). What then happens though if you don't actually make the ADA fixes, is you can get hit with another suit. You can see the slippery slope here.

NADA is going to start having to put some pressure on third party plugins/products that the website has no control over. Think CarFax and Autocheck reports, trade-in tools, pop-ups, automated marketing tools, e-commerce tools, etc.

We'll see how this shakes out in the end but right now it's a total smash and grab. I honestly think in some cases the law firms are getting a piece of the 3rd party ADA plugin action because sometimes they'll point you straight to one plugin or another. But maybe that's my tin foil hat speaking :D