ADA Compliant Matterport Virtual Tours – What the Real Estate Industry Needs to Know
With websites serving as an essential way to do business, it’s in a company’s best interest to ensure that their online presence complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Also, ensuring that your Matterport virtual tours are accessible to all visitors is a best practice that should be adopted by every organization, not only because it’s the right way to do business, it also helps avoid often costly lawsuits that could prove to be a financial burden.
The real estate industry is an increasing target of ADA lawsuits, and, since websites arose after the ADA was enacted, the degree of compliance websites need to be able to operate within the guidelines of the ADA is still unclear. What is known is that defending ADA lawsuits can be an expensive proposition, not only due to lawyer fees, but also to the fines firms face if found guilty of non-compliance. The steep fines are currently $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for each subsequent violation.
Online real estate marketplace company Zillow was the defendant in a lawsuit filed in April of 2019. The plaintiffs, both of whom are visually impaired, claimed that Zillow and its affiliate websites including Trulia, RealEstate.com and Zillow Home Loans, violated Title III of the ADA, which requires websites to provide online content to people with disabilities that is equal to what is provided for non-disabled consumers. The plaintiffs both navigate the internet via their smartphones through the use of screen readers and the voiceover function. They found the sites “largely unusable” because of a lack of labels associated with input fields. This prevents the phone’s screen reader to properly use the home search functions on the websites. In addition, the plaintiffs found issues accessing a Home Buyers Guide, where a play button that is used to access content was a link with no text, making it hard on the visually impaired consumers to find a link destination.
The complaint stated that, “By failing to make its Websites available in a manner compatible with computer screen reader programs, Defendant … deprives blind and visually-impaired individuals the benefits of its online goods, content, and services — all benefits it affords non-disabled individuals — thereby increasing the sense of isolation and stigma among these Americans that Title III was meant to redress.”
Both your website needs to be ADA compliant, in addition to any rich media like Matterport virtual tours. Making Matterport virtual tours accessible is no easy task but it is an important one. That is why Barnes Creative Studios has solved this problem for Matterport customers as an official Matterport Marketplace partner. We were the first with a solution in 2020 and now our 2nd iteration of our solution is even more robust as we access data straight from Matterport and add our layer of accessibility to your virtual tours.
The National Association of Realtors have put real estate brokers on notice that they should be paying attention to accessibility and taking it seriously. “ADA Website accessibility claims are on the rise. With a reported 177% increase in website accessibility lawsuits filed from 2017 to 2018, and a 131% increase in filings during the first quarter of 2019 as compared to the first quarter of 2018, these lawsuits show no signs of slowing down.”
With around 8.1 million Americans reporting difficulty seeing, including 2 million who are blind or unable to see, the complaint pointed out that “accessible technology is both readily available and cost effective,” and should be integrated into Zillow’s sites.
This technology is here, and it offers a virtual tour experience that is not only ADA complaint, but also easy to implement. Learn more about how you can ensure your websites are delivering a comprehensive and compliant experience to each and every customer. Contact us for more information about our 360 accessibility generator for Matterport virtual tours.