Food For Thought: Website Accessibility Driven Lawsuits

The 4/19/2019 edition of artsy.net published an article by Claire Voon that reports on a pair of lawsuits filed separated by two legally blind plaintiffs against dozens of New York City art galleries that their websites allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Adaptistration People 157As the article points out, issues of websites and accessibility via ADA standards are, at best, murky.

Part of confusion comes from a separate set of standards called Section 508, which provides accessibility for digitally published material. They aren’t the same as ADA standards, which were designed more for access to facilities and services.

Granted, all of this is going to get settled in time, more than likely through lawsuits such as the ones unfolding now in New York.

In my professional opinion, I believe Section 508 standards, which are currently drawn from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), will become the regulatory benchmark for determining what is and isn’t accessible under the law.

You can learn more about the topic via the accessibility article archive here at Adaptistration as well as a special series of articles I’ve been writing at ArtsHacker.com on what web content managers can do to begin bringing their website content into WCAG compliance.

One additional item of note in the artsy.net article is a new open source platform called Coyote, which is designed to help “encourage the use of visual description in museum practice.” It’s an interesting project and I’ve reached out to the team leaders to learn more. We’ll circle back after I’ve made contact.

Until then, be sure to check out the ArtsHacker articles and ask yourself if your organization has started into those accessibility compliance content management tasks yet.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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