10. Inaccessible City Website

David Hey Ana I have a friend who is blind. She was trying to pay her property tax on the city’s website. She uses a  screen reader and couldn’t find her way around. Any thoughts?

Ana This is a hot issue. Websites that are not accessible are a huge barrier for many people with disabilities.

David What do you mean by “accessible”.

Ana For example captioning on videos for people who are deaf or being able to navigate the website with key controls instead of a mouse for people who are blind or have limited use of their hands.

David Does the ADA require that the city’s website be accessible?

Ana Yes. Since the ADA is a civil rights law the Department of Justice expects city, town and state websites to be accessible to people with disabilities.

David Does the ADA have web accessibility standards, like it has building accessibility standards.

Ana Not yet. The Department of Justice has proposed design standards for web accessibility but they haven’t been adopted. Since we don’t have ADA web accessibility standards yet the Department of Justice wants us to use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

David Any suggestion on what my friend can do?

Ana The tax department may not be aware that their website isn’t accessible or what “accessible” means. Your friend could email the director explaining that she’s blind, uses a screen reader and couldn’t navigate the website or pay her bill. She could also include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Also every municipality with 50 or more employees is required to have an ADA coordinator. He or she would be a good person to contact about the city’s website.

David  Great ideas, thank you.