Every destination marketing website should make digital accessibility a priority. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it can also help them reach the 1.3 billion people globally living with a disability.

However, there’s another reason that many destination marketing organizations (DMOs) should ensure every visitor can access their website — and it has to do with a recent update to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

On April 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) signed a final rule under Title II of the ADA requiring state and local governments to make their websites and mobile apps accessible to people with disabilities. Notably, this rule also applies to any vendor providing digital services to these entities.

In other words, if a DMO is contracted by the state or local government to provide information on behalf of the government, it must also follow Title II guidelines on web accessibility.

And even if they don't, the DOJ has made it clear that they believe Title III requires the website to be accessible.

In this article, we break down key dates and requirements of the new rule, discuss how digital accessibility fits into a modern marketing strategy, and explain how Simpleview helps DMOs become ADA-compliant.

What is Title II of the ADA?

Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to benefit from all the programs and services they offer.

Historically, the ADA has been used to address accessibility barriers in the physical world, such as the lack of wheelchair ramps or Braille elevator buttons. However, courts have repeatedly ruled that the ADA also applies to websites and other digital channels.

With the new rule, there’s no ambiguity. In addition to eliminating accessibility barriers in the physical world, state and local governments must ensure their websites and mobile apps are accessible to people with disabilities.

According to the new rule:

  • State and local government entities must follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, Level AA
  • Any vendor providing digital services to a state or local government entity — such as creating or managing a website or mobile app — must also adhere to this rule

What’s the Timeline for Government Entities and Vendors to Become Compliant?

State and local governments serving over 50,000 persons have two years from the rule’s publication date to be compliant, while entities serving less than 50,000 people have an additional year to be compliant.

The extra year gives smaller cities — which often have fewer resources — more time to comply. However, that doesn’t mean that any government entity or vendor should wait to address digital accessibility issues — especially when you consider the value of making sure your website is accessible to every potential visitor.

What if my DMO’s Website Doesn’t Receive Funding From a Government Entity?

You should still prioritize digital accessibility. In recent years, the DOJ has repeatedly ruled that Title III of the ADA — which covers places of public accommodation — can also be applied to websites.

Making the Business Case for Digital Accessibility

While the risk of legal action is always a good motivation to find and fix accessibility violations, there’s another reason for DMOs to start prioritizing web accessibility: it’s good business.

According to a recent AARP survey, 65% of Americans ages 50-plus plan on traveling in 2024.

Because people’s vision tends to get worse as they age, any industry that caters to an older audience should follow accessibility best practices like minimum font size and sufficient color contrast between elements on a page. In fact, simply following WCAG’s guidelines on font size and color contrast can improve the user experience for people with age-related vision loss.

Here are three more reasons to prioritize digital accessibility:

  1. Reach a wider audience: As we mentioned above, 1.3 billion people globally live with some type of disability. By prioritizing accessibility, you can open your digital doors to many travelers who would otherwise be unable to comfortably navigate your website.
  2. Improve the user experience for all visitors: Many of the best practices of accessible design — such as clear, consistent navigation and plenty of white space on a page — are closely aligned with general web design best practices. When a site is easy to read and navigate, visitors tend to spend more time exploring the site — and finding the information they need.
  3. Appear higher in search results: If you compared a list of accessibility best practices and search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, there would be plenty of overlap. By creating a website that works well for people with disabilities, you also create one that is easy for search engines to crawl.

How Simpleview Helps Organizations Get ADA-Compliant

Simpleview helps DMOs find and fix accessibility violations on their websites.

Our partnership with AudioEye enables us to address our clients’ digital accessibility from multiple angles, from web personalization tools (which let visitors adjust the visual preference of your website to their preferences with the click of a button) to automated tools that can find and fix many common accessibility violations.

Want to dig deeper into your website’s accessibility? AudioEye’s team of accessibility experts — including members of the disability community — can manually test your website, helping you find additional accessibility violations and usability issues.

Learn more about Simpleview’s partnership with AudioEye — and how we can help you deliver an accessible, compliant experience to every user.

A Deep Dive into the DOJ Ruling for Accessibility Need-To-Know Standards for DMOs Webinar Header ImageJoin accessibility experts as they dive deep into the recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ruling for accessibility. Discover key state government accessibility updates and explore the regulations that your destination marketing organization needs to know to meet accessibility standards.

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