Updated: 20 July 2020
ConsulNet SuccessWebsite Statement on Website Accessibility
Recently in the United States, there has been an increase in legal actions against real estate businesses. These relate to the accessibility of real estate websites for users with disabilities. Here is some background information on this issue and a description of how we are responding.
You should NOT rely on this information as legal advice. We strongly recommend you discuss these matters with your own counsel, especially if you’ve received a notice of legal action.
What are these legal actions?
One or more disability advocate groups have filed the actions we are aware of. Where they have found a website with accessibility errors or challenges for persons with disabilities, they open legal proceedings against the operating business. They argue that the business is engaging in discrimination under various laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act – Title III and the Federal Fair Housing Act. (In some cases, state legislation has also been cited, such as the Florida Fair Housing Act.) The actions demand the operating business take steps to resolve all website issues and also seek attorney fees and costs.
What is the standard for accessibility for my website?
None of the cited laws and regulations describe a minimum standard for website accessibility. Case law and commentary from the US Department of Justice has led to the adoption of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a reasonable standard. In development and testing, ConsulNet SuccessWebsite makes efforts to check our website products against the WCAG 2.0 compliance standards (“Level A”).
While W3C has released WCAG 2.1 specifications, the Abstract to that document reads: “The publication of WCAG 2.1 does not deprecate or supersede WCAG 2.0… WCAG 2.0 remains a W3C Recommendation.”
What is ConsulNet SuccessWebsite’s response?
ConsulNet SuccessWebsite believes everyone has the right to access information, and we take these issues seriously. We regularly check our website products for accessibility using technology that assesses compatibility with WCAG 2.0, which is a current W3C Recommendation. Historically, we have seen minor accessibility errors reported when screen readers or other accessibility technology are updated. When we discover errors or members bring them to our attention, we promptly fix them and publish the changes among all SuccessWebsite products.
A common complaint in the legal actions we are aware of is that images on a website are not readable by assistive technology. Per WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 recommendations, we implement any images that are pure decoration (e.g. web page backgrounds) to be ignored by assistive technology. All functional images on our website products follow the WCAG standards and are readable, including those for hotlists and property details.
How will ConsulNet SuccessWebsite help me with accessibility issues?
Our technical team addresses accessibility errors as we discover them through testing or as members bring them to our attention. We publish fixes automatically to all member websites. You do not have to do anything to activate these fixes. If you learn of an accessibility issue with your website, please contact us immediately through our Support portal at http://SuccessWebCare.com with the details.
Please note that while we check our web page templates for accessibility compliance, we cannot be responsible for any customized content that you add to your site. If you have any concerns, please contact us to arrange an evaluation. Depending on the work required, we may charge a fee to help correct accessibility issues with your customized content.
Also note it may not be possible for us to ensure compliance in those elements of our website products that process third-party data. For example, our HDX property display system may display data that does not comply with WCAG standards. These issues originate in the data feed generated by the MLS board, and the board would have to correct the issue at the source. In these cases, we will help you find the parties to contact for a resolution.
ConsulNet SuccessWebsite Terms & Conditions
While we will do our best to correct accessibility issues discovered on our websites, ConsulNet SuccessWebsite provides all products on an “as is” and “as available” basis, and your use of our products is at your sole risk. Here is a link to the SuccessWebsite Terms and Conditions. If you have any concerns about exposure to legal action, we strongly encourage you to discuss this with your legal advisor.
What should I do if I get notice of a legal action for website accessibility against my business?
We strongly recommend you discuss responding to the legal action with your own counsel. You should NOT rely on this information as legal advice.
If the notice of legal action describes specific deficiencies with your website’s accessibility, please contact us immediately through our Support portal at http://SuccessWebCare.com. Send us the description of the deficiencies so our technicians can analyze the issue.