Many website owners seek out a third-party digital accessibility expert in response to litigation that alleges their website is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other California or New York state laws.
This has been the traditional response to ADA website litigation and it’s a well-reasoned reaction because expertise is needed to find and fix accessibility issues and eventually make a website WCAG 2.1 AA conformant.
However, there are a few notable drawbacks to sourcing a provider.
One drawback is time. An audit usually takes at least 3-5 weeks to be delivered, which means the majority of remediation or fixing of issues is also pushed back. Remediation efforts can last 1-3 months or longer.
Another downside is cost. Audits from reputable organizations typically start at $3,500 and can range over 5-figures. And this is just to find and report on issues, the cost of remediation is separate and can rival or exceed the audit price.
Moreover, audits aren’t tailored towards litigation prevention, audits are based on WCAG 2.1 AA success criteria (or another version of WCAG). In effect, your remediation time and energy may be prioritized towards issues that plaintiffs’ lawyers aren’t looking for while the issues they are focused on remain on the website.
Also noteworthy is sourcing out to accessibility services likely means your internal accessibility knowledge isn’t advancing. This results in a cycle where your team continues to introduce accessibility issues in new code and content and your organization continues to be reliant on third-parties to resolve those issues.
Training Specific to Litigation
I have created the ADA Compliance Course which amounts to website accessibility training that addresses almost all of these problems.
First, the lessons in the training act as an SOP or step-by-step instructions that teach your team how to find (audit) and fix (remediate) the most commonly claimed issues in litigation by the most active plaintiffs’ law firms.
This not only allows your team to take immediate action on the issues that present the most legal risk, but also helps them learn about accessibility through the experience.
Second, the cost of the course is significantly lower than the traditional route of audit and remediation which makes genuine accessibility much more affordable to small businesses and larger organizations alike.
Although the course does not provide instruction on how to become fully WCAG conformant and your team will not be accessibility experts after completing the lessons, there is nevertheless tremendous value in the agility of the course.
Your team does not necessarily have to become experts in accessibility; they just need to be proficient enough to fix the issues that present the greatest legal risk first. After this is completed, there can be a sense of relief and work can progress on full WCAG conformance.
My other course, the WCAG Course, can help with this.
The good news is as your team goes through this experiential education, they will instantly start to recognize many of the ways they can easily adapt their current processes to create more accessible code, content, and assets out of the box.
This results in a tremendous time and cost savings.
The Benefits of an Audit
Of course, optimally you will both have your website audited by accessibility experts and train your team on web accessibility.
There are many benefits to an audit:
- An audit is performed by one or more technical experts who have experience in identifying accessibility issues
- An audit will result in a comprehensive accounting of all the accessibility issues, in theory, that exist on the primary pages and screens of your website.
- Depending on the scope, an audit can include multiple environments (e.g., desktop and mobile) as well as assistive technologies.
- You can leverage the audit to work towards full WCAG conformance.
- An audit is a one-time cost.
- An audit is a formal evaluation of your website that results in an official report. This report can be used for policy, compliance, or other legal requirements.
The Benefits of Training
Regardless of the sequence in which you train your team on website accessibility – before or after an audit – the education will always be beneficial.
Training helps in numerous ways:
- Individual accessibility considerations can be learned and implemented quickly, lowering legal risk as issues are resolved.
- Accessibility issues introduced in new code or content will decrease drastically.
- Your internal team will add an additional skillset which will reduce your organization’s reliance on third-parties and lower costs.
- Your team can better evaluate third-party vendor products (e.g., website integrations, platforms, etc.) for accessibility.
- Training fosters a more inclusive mindset as your staff (managers, employees, contractors, volunteers, etc.) become aware of different experiences and perspectives.
With these positives, investing in training is always a good idea.
ADA compliance for websites is still new to many organizations, but by working strategically, website owners can both their risk of litigation and improve the accessibility of their website.
The ADA Compliance Course helps accomplish both objectives.