Many clients ask us if a web accessibility banner, with an 800 number for disabled user to call for help, constitutes compliance with ADA regulations. This is a fair question since the Department of Justice stated in 2010 that telephone access could be considered compliance.
We like to approach this from a customer standpoint as well as a legal standpoint. From a customer perspective, we simply ask if having a fully accessible site would help increase customer engagement and potentially increase sales. Our premise is that a customer would more easily learn about your company and products via a website as opposed to calling and speaking to an operator. So, increasing accessibility is a win-win for both you and your customers.
From a legal perspective, we highlight the much more recent case of Gorecki V. Dave & Buster’s. In October of this year, Dave & Buster’s argued that it complied with accessibility laws since it offered an 800 number for assistance and had it staffed by a receptionist. Because of the banner, Dave & Buster’s requested that the case be dismissed. The court found that the phone number alone does not guarantee compliance and dismissed this motion, allowing the case to move forward.
Since we’re a technology firm and not a law firm, we cannot provide legal advice and we direct clients to consult an attorney. We also warn that we have found many accessibility hotlines which are coded incorrectly on websites. This results in accessibility banners being invisible to assistive technologies. For example, we recently researched a large pizza company and found that their site was not accessible with many WCAG2.0 guidelines and their accessibility banner was also not accessible. Specifically, JAWS 18, which is the most popular screen reader (according to WebAim), was unable to read the 800 number and text. Inclusion of a banner, for disabled users, that’s not accessible to assistive technologies is ironic but can be easily fixed.
ADASure’s stance is that adding an accessibility number to a website that is already compliant is fine as a secondary or tertiary point of contact for disabled users but relying solely on the 800 number to show compliance with the law carries a high degree of risk.