During the first quarter of 2020, Seyfarth Shaw LLP reported that the number of lawsuits involving website accessibility plateaued in 2019 and were lower during January, February, and March than they were the same time last year. COVID-19, however, forced more businesses to conduct business online for most of this year. As the pandemic continues to dictate consumer purchasing behavior, website compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has moved to the forefront once again. Even as courts remain closed or are slow to reopen, web accessibility litigation can be expected to rise.

In October, Rep. Ted Budd and Rep. J. Luis Correa introduce the Online Accessibility Act (H.R. 8478) in Congress. The bill requires businesses, including financial institutions, to meet Level A and Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 to be ADA compliant. You can prevent your bank website from web accessibility litigation by using an ADA-compliant theme to build your website and ensuring your content follows WCAG 2.0 guidelines.


Using an ADA-Compliant Website Theme

You can conquer accessibility issues sitewide by building your bank website with an ADA-compliant theme. Web developers program features on the backend of your website to meet accessibility standards.

For instance, programming links and dropdown menus for keyboard navigation in your theme is necessary for mobility-impaired customers and others who may not be able to use a mouse. Correct HTML coding for buttons and links also assists customers who use a screen reader, the keyboard, or other input devices to move through your website. Proper heading structure is a universal design characteristic that benefits all customers, not just the ones who are blind or are visually impaired.

An ADA-compliant theme is merely a start. It doesn’t guarantee that all your content will be accessible.


Ensuring Content Follows WCAG 2.0 Guidelines

Your web developer will code several design elements of your bank website into your theme for accessibility, such as colors, fonts, and text styles. However, you’ll want to be sure to use and modify them correctly to maintain compliance.

You can easily cause accessibility issues by incorrectly using headers or text styles or affecting legibility by manually changing type sizes to be too large or too small. The same is true if you introduce colors that are not part of your theme or emphasize text with color instead of varying the type style or font.

Another common misstep to avoid is adding video or audio that autoplays or doesn’t have user controls. Finally, whenever you add graphics or images to a page, you must include descriptive alt text or a caption that can be explained to the customer by a screen reader.

These small details may seem minor, but applied incorrectly, they can cause a huge problem with ADA compliance.


Final Words

Designing your bank website to be ADA compliant is imperative, and we understand that web accessibility can be intimidating, especially with guidelines and standards changing constantly. Our BankSITE® Builder themes are built to be ADA compliant. Also, with the BankSITE® ADA Accessibility Module, you can lessen the chance that your bank or credit union will become the target of expensive web accessibility litigation. If you’re unsure if your bank website is ADA compliant or if you’ve received a demand letter regarding web accessibility, contact us today to discuss how we can help.

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