Frequently Asked Questions
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, grew out of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, however discrimination against people with disabilities was not addressed until 1973 when Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 became law. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.
Since then, advocacy groups representing millions of Americans and people around the world, who are prevented from equal access both in the physical and digital world, have fought to make the world more inclusive and guarantee the rights of individuals under the laws of their respective countries.
ADA Title III is a Regulation which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (business that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed by the ADA), and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation – as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses or office buildings) – to comply with the ADA Standards. Today, these places of public accommodation include the Internet.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a regulation which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public entities – state or local government and any of their departments, agencies, or other instrumentalities. The Federal Government is not considered a public entity and is covered under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires access to programs and activities that are funded by Federal agencies and to Federal employment. The law also established the Access Board (section 502). Later amendments strengthened requirements for access to electronic and information technology in the Federal sector (Section 508).
Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in federal entities, or programs that receive federal financial assistance, and set the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 protects children and adults with disabilities from exclusion, and unequal treatment in schools, jobs and the community.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a Law that requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. It is important to note that compliance with Section 508 is required by vendors doing business with federal agencies or those organizations receiving federal funding.
On January 18, 2017 the Access Board issued a final rule that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The rule jointly updates and reorganizes the Section 508 standards in response to market trends and innovations, such as the convergence of technologies. The refresh also harmonizes these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission and with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT.
Specifically, the rule references WCAG 2.0 Level AA Success Criteria and applies them not only to websites, but also to electronic documents and software.
As of January 18, 2018, federal agencies will be required to comply with the revised standard. This start date, as stated by the U.S. Access Board, is exclusively for federal agencies. While schools, local and/or state governments receiving funding from the federal government may be required to comply with the 508 Refresh, they should check with their specific funding source for specific requirements and/or deadlines.
Given that more than 15% of the population has a disability that can impede equal access to digital content, there is no reason why every website should not be fully accessible. It is important to keep in mind that all public entities are required to provide equal access under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the failure to provide an accessible website can result in legal action
Many states require compliance with Section 508 and have passed laws identical or similar to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or require compliance with Section 508. Some of these laws are based on the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Guidelines and Standards (WCAG) version 2.0 for web content accessibility.
To confirm the accessibility requirements of your State, visit the State’s .gov site and search “Accessibility Statement,” and you will find the exact requirements.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a regulation which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public entities – state or local government and any of their departments, agencies, or other instrumentalities. Title II, requires comparable access for people with disabilities, by all state and local government programs, regardless of whether the programs get federal financial assistance or not.
The Federal Government is not considered a public entity and is covered under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE means providing regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
Learn more about Section 504 at: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/section504/
All public entities must comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each state and local government’s services, activities, and programs that are provided to the public must be accessible. Even if a state and local program is not funded by or receives financial assistance from the federal government, it must still comply with ADA under Title II.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Education that focuses on protecting the civil rights of all Americans. The mission of the OCR is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation, through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.
The OCR serves student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems.
A complaint can be filed by anyone who believes that an education institution or program described above, that receives Federal financial assistance has discriminated against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age. The person or organization filing the complaint does not need to be a victim of the alleged discrimination but may complain on behalf of another person or group.
This means that an individual, group or organization can file an OCR complaint, whether or not they are a direct victim of the alleged discrimination.
Basically, if someone sees that a school doesn’t have a wheelchair ramp, they can file an ORC complaint because a student in a wheelchair is being denied equal access to the school.
As it relates to digital accessibility, for example: if the school’s websites, public or internal facing, are not digitally accessible, a person with or without a disability, can file an OCR complaint, citing that people with disabilities, because they are being denied equal access to information as a result of the failure of the school or school district, to provide equal access to information, are being discriminated against on the basis of their disability.
This means schools and school districts have exposure beyond the 15% – 20% of the population that has a disability; anyone can file a complaint against a school for their failure to provide equal access.
The OCR plays a key role in resolving complaints of discrimination. The OCR enforces several Federal civil rights laws including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and Title II of the ADA which applies to State and local governments which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all services, programs, and activities provided to the public.
Failure to provide equal access to digital content for people with disabilities, is no different than failing to provide the physical accommodations – such as wheelchair ramps, elevator buttons in braille or flashing light cues – to individuals impaired by mobility, vision or auditory disabilities.
There are different requests made by the OCR when seeking to enforce civil rights laws. The following provides an overview of the steps required to conform to stipulations outlined in demand letters sent from the OCR or comply with settlement agreements established with the OCR.
- Procure Accessibility Specialist
- Provide Accessibility Support Resources for End-Users
- Establish an Audit Priority Plan
- Audit Existing Content and Functionality
- Train Resources and Establish Policies and Procedures for New Content and Functionality
- Formalize a Corrective Action Plan
- Remediate Issues and Adhere to Corrective Action Plan Schedule
For this reason, AudioEye recommends a proactive approach to remediate existing sites to a) do the right thing by granting equal access to the widest audience possible, b) comply with ADA-related digital accessibility requirements, resulting in c) risk mitigation.
Addressing, resolving and/or complying with a settlement agreement is burdensome and expensive. Failing to comply with ADA-related requirements resulting in an OCR complaint can cost four or five times more than the cost of remediating an existing site.
In 2015, the Seattle Public Schools received an OCR complaint which ended in a lawsuit that culminated in a landmark settlement agreement for which costs were estimated to exceed $800,000.
Since then, there have been hundreds of OCR complaints filed against K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, including: Harvard, MIT, Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona State University, NYU and many, many more.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. IDEA was previously known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) from 1975 to 1990. In 1990, the United States Congress reauthorized EHA and changed the title to IDEA (Public Law No. 94-142). Overall, the goal of IDEA is to provide children with disabilities the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability.
Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California legislation outlaws discrimination based on disability. This relatively new law has played a vital role in affirming inaccessible websites as discriminatory under the ADA Title III definition of “public accommodations”. Various legal precedents have been established that assert that businesses with operations in the state of California must comply with the requirements of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA Success Criteria. Unlike other ADA-related laws, the Unruh Act allows for both statutory damages and injunctive relief, which adds an additional level of risk for organizations seeking to defend themselves against claims of non-compliance.
In 2005, the Government of Ontario, Canada, enacted legislation to improve accessibility standards for the citizens of Ontario with physical and mental disabilities. This progressive, relatively new law, which establishes “Information and Communication Standard” requirements for accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities, implemented firm deadlines relative to the size of the institution and sector in which it operates.
Title III of the ADA prohibits “… discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations …” Today, that includes the Internet. “Digital Accessibility” is about providing equal access to individuals with a range of disabilities. The failure to provide accessible websites excludes millions. It is this exclusion that has led to hundreds of thousands of complaints, legal demand letters and hundreds of federal lawsuits since 2015.
In terms of access, the Internet poses an even bigger problem than the physical world. Every one of the 56.7 million people in the U.S. with a disability cannot realistically attempt to enter / access every physical structure – whether it is accessible or not. However, they can, attempt to access any of the 1.3 billion websites, so the issue of accessibility in the digital world is much greater than in the physical world. Whether physical or digital, people with disabilities are guaranteed equal access under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ADA Policy can (and should be) expansive to include everything from physical ADA requirements (think ramps and rails) and the broad adoption of universal design principles across the entire organization, to web and digital accessibility requirements, which should cover not only websites and native applications, but also policies that consider such topics as emails, vendor selection, 3rd party content/service providers, assistive technologies, alternative access, help and support, etc.
The following excerpt is taken directly from the ADA National Network: Information, guidance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act
It is important to remember that in the context of the ADA, “disability” is a legal term rather than a medical one. Because it has a legal definition, the ADA’s definition of disability is different from how disability is defined under some other laws.
The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.
It is important to note that the World Health Organization, in 2016, has estimated between 15% – 20% of the world’s population has some level of disability. That equates to between 1 billion and 1.4 billion people worldwide.
“Accessibility” as it relates to the Americans With Disabilities Act, is about providing equal access to individuals with disabilities. Usually, we tend to think of accessibility in terms of ramps and rails; many think of the physical world and the accommodations required for people experiencing barriers to access due to vision, hearing or mobility disabilities.
AudioEye focuses on digital accessibility and providing the “ramps and rails” needed for access to the digital world. The ADA Tile III prohibits “… discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations …” Today, that includes the Internet; which means “accessibility” poses a much bigger issue, and like the Internet itself, impacts a much bigger population. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 15% of the world’s population has a disability that may prevent them from equal access to digital content.
People who are blind don’t use the Internet.
False. The only difference between people who are sighted and those who are blind is their vision. People who are blind participate in the world in every way like everyone else – they simply require accommodations for equal access. Braille, audio cues and other modifications allow people who are blind to participate equally. The Internet is no different; they use screen readers, keyboards and other assistive technology to access information. Unfortunately, if not coded for accessibility, these screen readers don’t work. It is this type of exclusion that can lead to legal action.
People with disabilities comprise a very small portion of the population.
False. According to the World Health Organization, between 15% – 20% of the world’s population are disabled. It is critical that we widen our view of what “disability” means. The range of disabilities are more than blind, deaf or immobile – people with color blindness, low vision, dyslexia, those who suffer from seizures and a range of cognitive disabilities impact the ability of individuals to consume digital content.
To achieve digital accessibility, you need to redesign your website.
False! AudioEye is solving technology issues with technology, remediating issues of accessibility on existing websites without altering the form or function of a site and helping companies mitigate risk. From Day 1 the AudioEye technology identifies and fixes the most common issues of accessibility –all behind the scenes. AudioEye goes beyond accessibility to enhance usability for all site visitors, but especially aging populations with low vision, the nearly 1 in 10 people with dyslexia, and anyone who better understands information by listening rather than reading – the Ally Toolbar which is part of the AudioEye Ally Managed Services – addresses these and a range of needs.
Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.
For example: the cut in a curb – this allows wheelchairs to access sidewalks from parking spaces, but it also allows strollers to be easily pushed on to the sidewalk, or shopping carts to be pushed off a sidewalk. A curb cut also allows someone with a walker or cane to more easily access a sidewalk.
Digital accessibility is to the digital world what ramps and rails are to the physical world. Digital accessibility allows individuals that rely on the use of Assistive Technology, or AT, such as screen readers, to access and consume digital content.
To be “accessible,” a website, or any digital content, must be designed and/or coded with digital accessibility in mind. The generally accepted standard is the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) 2.0. This guideline provides the path to making websites, PDFs and other digital media such as video, accessible to the range of AT.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WACG) 2.0 are globally recognized voluntary consensus standards for web content and information and communication technology (ICT).
In general, “compliance” as it relates to digital accessibility refers to compliance with regulations and laws. As it relates to legal demand letters relating to digital accessibility, “compliance” refers to the actions a company is taking to address or comply with the demands.
While AudioEye always recommends seeking legal counsel in the event a demand letter is received regarding digital accessibility, in general, once you begin the process of addressing – or complying with – the demands outlined, and you detail these actions in your response through legal counsel, you are working towards compliance and therefore, generally eliminating your risk as it pertains to the legal demand letter. That is, of course, assuming that you complete the process of making your website accessible.
As it relates to digital accessibility, “conformance” refers to the conformance of digital materials with ADA-related digital accessibility requirements. The level of conformance required is dependent on the company and industry. For example, places of public accommodation such as banks, grocery stores, amusement parks, etc., are required to make their digital content fully accessible, using WCAG 2.0 Level AA as the standard.
There are free automated tools available to test website compliance. The problem is a lot of these free tools fall short of providing an actual understanding of the site’s accessibility. Many of the tools are not able to recognize advanced techniques that are now utilized. These tools can be a good start, but the business or organization should use something more comprehensive. Automatic testing is a good start, but manual testing is essential, as well.
There are many aspects of compliance that can only be discovered through manual testing. AudioEye engages in both automated and manual testing, ensuring a comprehensive view of gaps in compliance.
AudioEye is a technology company providing equal access to digital content. Through patented technology, subject matter expertise and proprietary processes, AudioEye identifies and resolves issues of accessibility on existing websites.
Our technology, team and services create the foundation for sustainable compliance with ADA-related digital accessibility requirements.
More importantly, AudioEye makes digital content more accessible and more usable for more people.
AudioEye leads with patented technology and proprietary processes that provide the ideal balance of automated and engineering-generated solutions to ensure websites are accessible for the widest audience possible.
AudioEye works in the background to continually monitor sites, identify issues of accessibility and resolve them immediately.
We don’t simply identify issues and tell our clients what needs to be fixed. That would be the equivalent of going to the dentist and learning you have a broken tooth … that’s it. No fix, just the information.
The company was founded with a deep commitment to making websites accessible to individuals relying on the use of Assistive Technologies. As the most demanding are screen readers – devices that convert the visual to audio – the name “AudioEye” made sense. However, it is much bigger than that – it is about all the senses and ensuring that whether it be sound, sight or touch, or even cognition, that every individual, regardless of their individual ability, has access to an equal experience – we think of it as leveling the playing field for everyone.
Our goal is to transform how the world experience digital content by providing every enterprise the technology needed to make their interfaces more usable. To achieve this, at our core are the following values:
People First: We believe that focusing on people first cultivates intellect, inspires innovation, and fosters success. Our passion for people builds a culture of trust and dedication that enriches lives.
Inclusive Design: We like to think big, and encourage our clients to do the same. We recognize human diversity as our greatest asset, and build solutions that are inclusive of the needs of all people, with a special emphasis on accessibility.
Inspired Problem-Solving: We celebrate fresh, agile thinking that opens doors to a world of possibilities. We encourage our team members to take risks, try new solutions and challenge the status quo – it’s at the very core of everything we do.
Relentless Empathy: We make a deliberate effort to appreciate people. Every day we turn that insight into action…improving the user experience of digital products, the customer experience of our partners, and the work experience of our team.
Lasting Impact: Legacy is measured by outcomes that result from hard work, thoughtful application, and commitment to a cause. So, we are intentional about performance – overcoming short-term obstacles without ever losing sight of the future we seek to create.
Pervasive Leadership: We take risks and hoist our flag to lead the market towards a more usable digital world, and we will never cease in that effort. It is this commitment that will leave a lasting impact for our future generations, regardless of circumstance.
You can reach us by email at Info@audioeye.com or by calling our headquarters at 866.331.5324.
To request a Product Demonstration, visit: https://www.audioeye.com/free-accessibility-analysis/
To request a Free Accessibility Analysis, visit: https://www.audioeye.com/request-a-demo/
AudioEye was founded and headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. We also have an office in Atlanta, Georgia with representatives located in Boston, Massachusetts, Chicago, Illinois, Colorado Springs, Colorado, New York, New York, and San Francisco, California.
AudioEye (AEYE) is a publicly traded company.
AudioEye offers a range of products and services from self-service to turnkey managed solutions. At the core of AudioEye, is the Digital Accessibility Platform (DAP), this powerful tool empowers auditors, designers, and developers to understand issues of accessibility and improve website infrastructure thorough the use of an innovative and easy-to-use interface.
The Ally Managed Service pairs our Digital Accessibility Platform with a team of subject matter experts, remediation engineers and manual testers to ensure a site is in conformance with ADA-related digital accessibility requirements. In addition, the Ally Manages Service includes the Ally Toolbar, which is cloud-based assistive technology that is embedded into our clients’ websites to provide all users with an enhanced and customizable experience for better consumption of digital content.
Ally Managed Service, or Ally, provides a single-source for digital accessibility compliance, auditing and resolution. Through the Ally Managed Service and an ideal mix of leading-edge technology and service, AudioEye provides end-to-end digital accessibility compliance testing, resolution, validation and monitoring.
This turnkey solution simplifies the process for clients and partners with subject matter experts that decrease or eliminate the learning curve on digital accessibility, technology that provides unmatched speed-to-compliance, and a team of engineers and manual testers that ensure issues of accessibility are resolved.
The AudioEye Web Personalization Tools, or Ally Toolbar, allows organizations to provide their site visitors with a fully customizable user experience that is tailored to their individual needs, regardless of their device type, language preference, or preferred method of access. This goes beyond accessibility to enhance usability and inclusivity for the largest audience possible.
Complying with Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is about fixing digital experiences for end-users leveraging their own assistive technology. While this addresses an important need, and should be the focus of any organization, a much larger demographic of users (many of whom do not self-identify – or report – themselves as having a disability or impairment) may benefit from the availability of free user-friendly tools that allow them to customize and optimize their digital experience.
The World Health Organization estimates that between 15% – 20% of the world’s population is disabled. This means more than 1 billion people worldwide are impeded from equal access to digital content. The Ally Toolbar addresses the needs of people including those with low vision, dyslexia, color blindness, and a range of vision, auditory, mobility and cognitive disabilities.
AT perceives the Ally Toolbar as an element of the website, which may be engaged or ignored.
Separate from the Ally Toolbar, AudioEye’s Remediation Technology makes websites accessible. By its nature, an accessible site interacts seamlessly with AT allowing the user to fully engage and interact with the site, without barriers that may limit or impede full access.
AT is dependent on the specific needs of the user. For example, when a blind user accesses an accessible website using their screen reader, their AT will provide the content audibly and they will have full control over the user experience using their keyboard. As another example, if the person is low vision, their AT will magnify the site as long as the website has been made accessible.
If you are accessing an AudioEye-enabled website using AT, the website has been optimized (or is in the process of being optimized), to ensure full access and usability. In any case, an AT user can engage the Ally Toolbar through their AT, however, it would not be necessary.
No. The Ally Toolbar was designed for individuals that do not have access to their own AT, or that do not require AT for access, but may have impediments to the full access and/or consumption of digital content – such as dyslexia, learning disabilities, seizures, color-blindness, low vision or the range of cognitive, intellectual and/or mobility issues.
The Ally Toolbar allows all users to customize their experience and more fully consume digital content in the manner that is most effective for them.
Simply press escape. Your preferences will be stored, but once you hit escape, the toolbar will close. You can re-engage the toolbar by clicking on the Man in Blue on any AudioEye enabled site.
The Digital Accessibility Platform is a Software as a Service (SaaS), is an API-first technology which contains a full set of rich application programming interfaces that allow developers to integrate accessibility testing with their current, preferred testing tools and existing development processes.
The Digital Accessibility Platform offers end-to-end compliance auditing with the ability to spider, scan, and diagnose entire websites, single blocks of code, content delivered via API, and much more, all while offering flexible resources for proper identification and remediation of the detected issues.
DAP is aligned with Section 508, the Section 508 Refresh and WCAG 2.0 Level AA, meaning that evaluations are based on the most critical success criteria for public, private and federal agency compliance with respective laws, regulations and guidelines.
AudioEye certifies that your site has met all prerequisites and continues to fulfill the ongoing requirements of the AudioEye Trusted Process and, if applicable, the deployment of the AudioEye Ally Toolbar, with the goal of maximizing and continually improving conformance with the informative guidance provided through the WCAG 2.0 Level AA Success Criteria. Certification is presented in Ally Toolbar and/or Client Accessibility Statement. Includes AudioEye Trusted Badge. As may be applicable and as determined by AudioEye, Certification may provide reference and/or access to conformance exclusions.
Requirements fulfilled in order to achieve AudioEye Trusted Certification:
- Errors identified and tracked within DAP are reduced to zero; any Errors outstanding are defined within the Source Remediation Report, a working document
- Manual audit has been conducted, corresponding issues have been remediated, and said issues have been validated as fixed
- The vast majority of Risks (if not all) have also been addressed; outstanding Risks that are not verified or not able to be remediated are included in the Source Remediation Report
- Source Remediation Report delivered to Client (and maintained via DAP)
Requirements for maintaining AudioEye Trusted Certification:
- Active AudioEye Agreement
- Continuous testing from always-on monitoring service
- Ad hoc hot fixing (if applicable): In the event that a large number of new Errors are identified, AudioEye will prioritize issues for Hot Fix deployments. Lower volume issue fluctuation is to be expected. In these cases, remediation and Source Remediation Reports are updated every 6 months, also coinciding with a twice-per-year manual audit.
- Bi-annual manual audit and maintenance remediation deployment
- Bi-annual source remediation reporting updates
- Regular attendance to Quarterly Training presentations
- Publication of conformance exceptions (if applicable): if conformance exceptions documented within the Source Remediation Report are not addressed in a commercially reasonable time period or if Client does not have any means of updating the source to address the conformance exceptions, maintaining AudioEye Trusted Certification may require the publication of the conformance exceptions via the AudioEye Trusted Statement.
Companies can represent compliance by marketing their commitment to compliance for all who visit the site. This can be done through the addition of:
- Accessibility Statement
Partnering with AudioEye is a great way to show this commitment, to both customers and auditors. Our certification statement, which includes phrases like: “The AudioEye Certification seal represents a commitment to accessibility and inclusion. The certification process involves automatic and manual testing with the goal of meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA Standards. By focusing on web accessibility best practices, this website has been optimized for use with 3rd party assistive technology”.
When companies choose to make compliance apart of their bank, they want to highlight this pledge.
Compliance is also represented through usability – having a site that is accessible and usable means considering the use case of individuals with varying abilities.