* Please note that we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice.
Your website should be accessible to people with disabilities or you might face a lawsuit – but what does that mean?
Many local businesses are sued because their websites are not coded for reading by screen readers and for use by people with various disabilities. In addition, a number of independent accommodation establishments have received letters of formal notice citing the inability to properly describe their accessibility features on their website.
In order for your website to be considered accessible, it must meet these two requirements:
1. Your website must meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
2. Your website must also comply with the United States Disability Act 28 CFR § 36.302 (e) (1) with respect to accommodation properties. Which means you need to DESCRIBE your accessibility features.
Did you know that the IRS will pay $ 5,000 for website accessibility?
Thanks to Section 44 of the IRS code, disabled access credit, businesses that take accommodations to make their business accessible to people with disabilities – including increasing the accessibility of their website – may be eligible for a $ 5,000 tax credit. Businesses can apply for the credit using the Disabled Access Credit on IRS Form 8826.
Who is entitled to the tax credit?
Small businesses like you! Your business is eligible for the tax credit if 1. You received $ 1 million or less in gross revenue for the previous tax year OR 2. You had 30 full-time employees or less in the previous tax year. For more information on eligibility, visit the EEOC website.
Shortcuts to accessible code don’t exist – adding a tool to read your website doesn’t make it accessible.
While adding a tool like Userway to your website shows a good faith effort towards compliance, it does not make it accessible to the level that has been established by case law. It is important to work with a professional company that understands WCAG 2.1 standards and to learn on your own what makes website code accessible.
How do you describe your accessibility features?
Here are some questions you can answer that will help people with disabilities decide if they can use your property:
Do you offer wheelchair access? Which facilities, rooms, bathrooms and entrances are wheelchair accessible? Do you have power doors, wheelchairs or portable stools available? Do you allow motorized wheelchairs? Are the entrances wide enough for wheelchairs? Are the toilets wheelchair accessible? Where are the wheelchair accessible toilets? Do you have elevators, where are they located? Is there a permanent or removable seat in the shower? Is there step-free access to the bathrooms? Do you have autonomous access ramp elevators or sloping entrances? If so, where? Do you have accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities? Visit: https://www.ada.gov/ for more information.
Accommodation for the blind or visually impaired
Are assistance dogs welcome? Where can they relieve themselves? Do you have braille signage? Do you have a staff member who would be willing to help the visitor know about your property or location? If you have passport type keys, do you offer the service of putting duct tape on the card to show them how to lock or unlock their room? Treat yourself to auxiliary aids such as readers. Learn more here on the American Federation of the Blind website: www.afb.org
Deaf or hard of hearing people
Do you offer assistive listening devices or do you have a staff member who knows sign language? Do you have subtitled television? Do you have TDD for phones? Contact: https://www.nad.org/ for more information and recommendations.
For hotels: if you have accessible rooms in your hotel, how can you describe them?
Do rooms have lowered peepholes, lever door handles, or adjustable clothes rails? Do you have a closed caption TV, tub grab bars, lever tub accessories, or handheld shower heads? How high are your toilet seats, wheelchair accessible showers, is the interior spacious enough for easier access to bed?
For hotels: answer the following questions on your accessibility page
- accessibility of your public entrance;
- route from the accessible public entrance to the check-in area;
- route from accessible public entrance to accessible rooms;
- public entrance route accessible to all areas where food and drinks are sold;
- rooms accessible to people with reduced mobility have doors with a clear width of 32 ”;
- accessibility of all hotel amenities and rooms
- The registration desk, ballrooms, meeting rooms, swimming pools, restaurants, etc. must also indicate whether they meet the 1991 accessibility standards and, if not, how.
- the property has a teleprinter for guest use; and
- the televisions of the rooms of the establishment are equipped with decoders of closed captioning or closed captioning.
Know the Law: American’s with Disabilities Act 28 CFR § 36.302 (e) (1)
(1) Reservations made by places of accommodation.A public housing who owns, rents (or rents to) or operates an accommodation facility must, with respect to reservations made by any means, including by telephone, in person or through a third party –
(I) Modify its policies, practices or procedures to ensure that people people with disabilities can make reservations for accessible rooms at the same times and in the same manner as people who do not need accessible rooms;
(ii) Identify and describe the functionalities accessible in the hotels and rooms offered through its reservation service in sufficient detail to reasonably allow people disabled to independently assess whether a given hotel or room meets its accessibility needs;
(iii) Ensure that accessible rooms are reserved for people disabled until all other rooms of this type have been rented and the requested accessible room is the only remaining room of this type;
(iv) Reserve, upon request, accessible rooms or specific types of rooms and ensure that requested rooms are blocked and removed from all reservation systems; and
(v) Guarantee that the specific accessible room reserved through its reservation service is held for the reserving customer, regardless of whether a specific room is held in response to reservations made by others.
Need help making your WCAG 2.1 website accessible?
In order to protect your business from a lawsuit, your hotel website should be rated for accessibility to people with disabilities. If you are looking for help in this review and help making your WCAG 2.1 website accessible, our team of programmers are here to help. We are committed to making your website accessible to everyone to the best of our ability!
Book a call with Sara Mannix or Book a call with Chris Archibee to start the conversation!
Looking for more website accessibility resources?
Check out the accessibility section of our blog for more information!