Unfortunately, the risks to associations continue to escalate. As many of you are aware, associations often can be at risk for violations of the Fair Housing Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One of the issues that seems to be emerging deals with the risk associated with associations’ websites failing to be ADA compliant.
Unfortunately, associations, ostensibly, are at risk if their websites are not ADA-compliant. Moreover, there are technical nuances associated with this above and beyond the association’s mere legal requirements. As such, if your association is unsure with respect to whether your association’s website complies and/or whether the association is required to comply, the association should consider contacting its law firm to discuss these issues more fully and to coordinate with the requisite professionals (including computer experts) to address these issues and mitigate the association’s risk, at least to the extent possible.
We are not suggesting that all associations must comply with the ADA or that their websites must comply the ADA. Rather, there is an issue whether the Association must be ADA-compliant, including with respect to their websites. Please remember that the ADA is, generally, an anti-discrimination statute. More specifically, it essentially prohibits discrimination predicated on disabilities. However, the ADA primarily addresses, and is pertinent with respect to, “public accommodations.” While most associations probably believe that they do not provide public accommodations, and therefore have no responsibility to comply with the ADA, this may, or may not, be true predicated on numerous facts and factors. Please further understand that to the extent your association opens its amenities for use by non-residents (for example., the Boy Scouts, little leagues, outside events), there is a much greater likelihood that your association could be required to comply with the ADA. There are, additional factors which could trigger the requirements of the ADA, and in fact, some of the courts appear split on some of these issues related to community associations and ADA compliance.
Given the above, please appreciate that whether a particular association must be ADA-compliant, and have their website ADA-compliant, may be dependent on that association’s particular facts and circumstances. As such, associations should consider specifically addressing these issues with their attorney.
If your association is required to comply with the ADA, your website, ostensibly, may need to comply with “WCAG 2.1 Guidelines.” As such, your association may also need to talk to a website designer who is proficient and knowledgeable with respect to ADA requirements and requisite coding.