You might have heard that real estate agents in Florida and California have received threatening letters from law firms regarding the ADA compliance of their websites with settlements ranging from $5,000 to $75,000 per instance if the agent/brokerage doesn’t “fix” the compliance issue on their website.
This started 2 years ago when a blind consumer sued Compass and a few other brokerages including Zillow, because it was not easy for them to shop for a home online. None of these lawsuits were successful.
Even though NAR has addressed the issue, the ADA has no Realtor-specific guidelines in place. With that said, we strive to make our sites as compliant as possible but there is not a real estate website out there that is 100% compliant. And in fact, there are website vendors touting their sites as compliant, when they are not.
What is Accessible?
Technically speaking, accessibility is defined by the requirements laid out by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and it’s often conflated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Non-technically, it’s giving someone with a disability, like limited or no sight or hearing, the ability to experience all elements of your website. For example, someone without sight is not able to see images or form fields on your website, so they need alternative text to inform as to the content of each image. Someone without hearing cannot listen to a narrated video, so they need captions.
How We Evaluate Accessibility
To determine whether or not a site is accessible, we use a checklist called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, or WCAG, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). They have three levels: A, AA, and AAA. As of this writing, to be considered accessible, a website has to meet WCAG 2.1 AA.
So… where does this leave us?
There are a few options:
● Do nothing… However, you could be at risk of a lawsuit and we DON’T recommend this!
● Hire an ADA compliance company like SiteImprove ($5k+/month) or AudioEye ($10k+/year)
● Use a “Free Plugin” service that only provides 20-50% coverage on compliance
● Use our solution
The only way a website can be 90% to 100% compliant is with third party software built into your site. We have partnered with Accessibe to bring our clients a tool that can help provide a 95-100% compliant solution. We install the software, we make sure that any new content that you add is ADA compliant. That means Alt tags, new menu items, etc. Although there is a monthly cost to this, it’s going to be a lot less than having to deal with the legal mess of a lawsuit, or even one of the compliance companies that I noted above.