Matt Ater, TPGi’s Vice President of Enterprise Sales, appeared on Troutman Pepper’s The Consumer Finance Podcast talking about “Recent Developments in ADA Website Accessibility Compliance.”
Though the ADA regulations have not changed, there have been recent developments in ADA enforcement, and because of this, there have been more website accessibility lawsuits than usual.
Two main changes are going on. One, because of Covid, people have been spending more time online and so are coming across any inaccessible website more often than they would have. Two, under the Biden Administration, the Department of Justice has become very more engaged in enforcing the ADA for websites, particularly for government-related websites and sites related to signing up for Covid appointments.
Matt Ater explained that despite this new engagement, the DOJ hasn’t said much about private businesses and website accessibility. He then explained that this silence impacts TPGi. Businesses come to TPGi worried about what their “risk level” is for a lawsuit. While becoming WCAG compliant with the help of TPGi is good protection against lawsuits, without the DOJ making a clear statement on private business websites, it’s going to be hard to know exact “risk levels.”
Matt Ater also discussed his belief in the importance of usability. It’s a myth that any website that gets updated and changed can be 100% accessible, he said; therefore, the most important thing is for users to be able to “complete the task[s]” on the website even if some other parts don’t work all the way. Also related to usability, Matt mentioned that TPGi has a direct feedback link (JAWS Connect) with users of the JAWS screen reader software because TPGi and the maker of JAWS are both a part of Vispero.
Talking about usability led to talking about automated accessibility overlay widgets. Overlays can only catch around 35% of the accessibility issues on a webpage. As a JAWS screen reader user himself, Matt says that he will “choose not to enable the overlay” most of the time because an overlay either makes it more difficult for Matt to read the website or doesn’t improve an already pretty accessible website.
Lastly, the other guests discussed how businesses need an ADA risk management program and an accessibility statement with an option for users with disabilities to provide feedback and get technical support.