Third Party Website Accessibility non-compliant issues?

 accessibility drawing 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act includes websites as places of public accommodation. That means websites of businesses and government agencies are required to be accessible to people such as those with hearing or vision impairments.

This principle has been upheld through regulatory action and lawsuits. Such cases have determined that the business or agency – not a third-party contractor that designed a non-compliant website – may be held liable for a site’s lack of access.
Ensuring that third-party designers are familiar – and compliant – with ADA standards does more than put developers and site owners on legal grounds. It also is the right thing to do. It serves customers and other users, is more inclusive, and can be good for business.
As website designers at we send screenshots of errors we cannot resolve to third-party vendors. Those vendors, in turn, usually thank Web Chick for pointing out simple issues, such as: titles missing on iframes, labels or a simple ALT tag missing. We help them understand the requirements – which also makes them better-prepared to serve their clients.
But it is especially important to make sure those clients understand their responsibility for what is – or isn’t – on their websites. Businesses and agencies need to make sure their third-party designers are ready and able to produce ADA-compliant sites – and to write contracts that specify the need for compliance, with penalties and/or bonuses that ensure compliance.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, a national accessibility-policy expert, has blogged on this topic. She wrote that there are several things a company or agency can do to mitigate the harm of third-party inaccessible content. There is a more-detailed list on her blog, but here are the main points:
  1. Include the level of accessibility required in your contracts
  2. Require remediation plus some other penalty for lack of compliance (or bonus for compliance, depending on whether you prefer carrots or sticks). Your vendor will not have any skin in the game unless there is some type of penalty for lack of compliance.
  3.  Specify a deadline for remediation for each type of inaccessible issue
  4.  Make sure the contract addresses vendor remediation costs
Byrne-Haber concludes:
“If you like living dangerously, go ahead and ignore the accessibility of your third-party content. You may get sued, but it will be the vendor’s fault, right? Even though that might be the case, that certainly does not make it OK. Do not underestimate the disruption such a suit will cause, or the cost in time, energy, and legal bills fighting it. Also, do not over-estimate your ability to get the money back from the vendor under a warranty or counterclaim. Including accessibility as part of your procurement process is critically important when evaluating vendors (how committed are they to it, how have they demonstrated the ability to be accessible in the past).
“It's best to find vendors that will contribute content or code to a corporate website that comes under WCAG 2.0 or 2.1 Level AA.” (That refers to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium.)

Story was written by Crissy Devine from Web Chick.
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