Recently, a high-profile case came out ruling that a grocery retailer’s website didn’t have to be accessible to people with disabilities. This has led some to believe that there is no law requiring websites to be accessible. In fact, the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) does require employers to make their hiring and careers websites accessible.
Part of the confusion is that the grocery store case involved Title III of the ADA. Employers are covered by Title I of the ADA, which is a different part of the law. And, it seems straightforward that Title I does require accessibility on the part of sites involved in recruitment, hiring, training, promotion opportunities or other employment activity, to the extent it does not create an undue hardship.
In addition to the federal law, many states require accessibility in employment-related websites, including Maryland and Virginia. By websites, we also mean mobile apps and any other form of electronic communication.
How to ensure your website is compliant
Ideally, when creating a website, you would solicit input from people in the disability community to ensure your website meets their needs and is compatible with common accessibility tools. This would generally involve talking to people who have visual or hearing impairments, at the least.
However, another good place to start is to adopt the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards. These standards are commonly used in building websites and apps and at least one court has found that compliance with these standards is an acceptable remedy for websites that fail to satisfy the ADA.
To reduce the cost of compliance, it’s best to build these standards into a website or app from the beginning instead of trying to add them onto an existing site.
Don’t overlook applicants with disabilities
People with disabilities are not merely a group that must be accommodated under the law. They are a vibrant part of the hiring and promotions pool with diverse backgrounds and experiences that can bring additional value to your workplace.
Hiring and promoting people with disabilities can help meet your diversity and inclusion goals and round out your staff so that clients and customers see they are being heard.
If you have questions about the ADA or the law in Maryland or Virginia, talk to your employment law attorney.