On March 18, 2022, the Department of Justice published information (click here) on web accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The DOJ does not provide a regulation setting out detailed standards, but has a new webpage with information about how state and local governments (entities covered by ADA Title II) and businesses open to the public (entities covered by ADA Title III) can use existing standards to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities in line with the ADA’s requirements. In the absence of a formal regulation, businesses will have flexibility in how they comply with the ADA’s general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication, but they must comply with the ADA’s requirements.
NAR and Missouri REALTORS® continue to recommend that real estate professionals work with their website vendors to conduct accessibility audits of their business websites to identify and address accessibility deficiencies. Existing technical standards provide helpful guidance concerning how to ensure accessibility of website features. These include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards, which the federal government uses for its own websites. In the meantime, NAR also continues to advocate that the DOJ issues a regulation that provides clear standards that take into consideration the challenges for businesses that develop and maintain accessible websites.
The Missouri REALTORS® Risk Management department would like to provide you with some risk management tips to help you navigate this difficult area of the law:
- Assess your website’s current accessibility, and create a plan to take steps to address and enhance any accessibility issues.
- Ask your website provider about how they are addressing your site’s accessibility, and be sure to address ADA website accessibility and indemnification in your contract with the provider.
- Consult a website accessibility expert to create a plan for addressing website accessibility issues.
- Include an accessibility statement on your website, along with contact information where individuals with disabilities may report difficulty accessing the website and can seek additional assistance accessing information or services. A sample of such a statement available from NAR can be found here.
In addition to the tips mentioned above, Missouri REALTORS® has created a “Keeping It Legal” video on the topic of “ADA Website Compliance.” The National Association of REALTORS® also has several resources including videos, articles, and guidelines available on the topic which can be found here.
Finally, as always, feel free to reach out to LEGAL LINE at 573-447-5278 (or submit a question online) for more information and guidance on this, and other legal topics!