We have received questions from a number of our credit union members about the legal requirements for credit union website accessibility for the visually impaired. Until last week, there was no clear guidance on the standard that would be applied to credit union websites. Now for the first time, a federal court has ruled that a retailer’s failure to provide an accessible website for the visually impaired violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the court has provided guidance on the applicable standard for accessibility.
The issue of website accessibility has become increasingly important, with plaintiffs filing lawsuits nationwide alleging website accessibility violations under the ADA. The federal court ruling on June 12, 2017, in Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (S.D. Fla. June 12, 2017), is the first federal court order granting injunctive relief and attorney’s fees for a website accessibility violation of the ADA by a place of public accommodation. The U.S. Department of Justice has issued website accessibility standards for government agencies but has not yet issued any standard for places of public accommodation.
The Winn-Dixie decision cites the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as the standard for website accessibility for places of public accommodation. The WCAG is developed by a consortium of private organizations. The problems with the Winn-Dixie website would have been addressed by compliance with the current WCAG 2.0. Even though the Winn-Dixie opinion is not controlling law for any of our Illinois credit unions, based on the court’s reasoning the WCAG 2.0 provide the best guidance for website accessibility requirements that would apply to credit unions. We encourage credit unions to review the WCAG 2.0 when examining their website accessibility.
More information on WCAG can be found at here.
The Winn-Dixie order can be accessed here.
By: Katherine Schnack, Senior Compliance and Corporate Counsel