Most people think that digital technology has made the world more accessible. While websites do increase accessibility for many people, they can be limiting for others. Specifically, people with disabilities may have increased difficulty accessing online content. This is not merely an inconvenience in some cases. For businesses that advertise jobs online, this question of web accessibility can have legal ramifications.
There are many laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. In the 1990s, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. This act required businesses to make their physical spaces universally accessible. This allowed people with disabilities to visit and work at businesses just like everyone else. Now, nearly 30 years later, this accessibility must also be digital.
As more businesses rely upon the internet, more people have filed website accessibility lawsuits. In fact, the number of such lawsuits tripled in federal court in 2018. More than 2,258 people have complained that job postings that are exclusively listed online are discriminatory against people with disabilities.
These lawsuits are spread across the nation, and they are brought forth mostly by individuals with visual impairments. The lawsuits were levied against a wide range of companies representing many industries. This includes retail, education, hospitality, technology, and more. Therefore, it is easy to see that the problem is not isolated. This is a widespread concern, and it should be a consideration for human resources departments across the country.
The problem often starts with job application portals. Many businesses have used these online portals to give applicants more flexibility. By making applications digital, it is also possible to minimize the amount of paperwork. However, such websites are rarely designed for people with visual impairments. This makes it nearly impossible for such candidates to learn about these job listings, and it makes applying for the job that much harder.
This problem can be avoided if businesses invest in technology to make their websites more accessible. Currently, only about half of companies use web technology that is compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). If you want to be inclusive and also avoid a lawsuit with your hiring practices, following these guidelines can be quite useful. It is not a problem to still list your jobs online, but it is your responsibility to make that website accessible to people with disabilities.
This process may seem daunting, but there are support systems in place. The ADA does not merely provide requirements for employers. The regulation also provides support for employers in order to streamline compliance. It is important to remember that accessibility is not a convenience. It is actually a law. If you fail to support applicants with disabilities, you are leaving your company open to costly litigation. Moreover, you may be costing your company access to qualified employees.