University Accessibility Lawsuits: How to Make Virtual Tours Accessible with 360 AG™
University accessibility lawsuits are showing no signs of slowing down. The rate of increase is at a staggering exponent as the pandemic drives more people to websites instead of “real life” visits. We can help with 360 AG™ (360 Accessibility Generator).
According to digital accessibility software company AudioEye, in July and August, digital accessibility suits increased 17 times compared to the first half of the year, writes Sara Weissman for Diverse Education. “We would expect to see more of these in the coming months,” said AudioEye Co-Founder Sean Bradley. “
According to insidehighered.com there are many university accessibility lawsuits in motion and a majority of them are private universities, colleges or conservatories. Some of the schools listed as currently being sued are Northeastern University, Drexel University, Cornell University, Vanderbilt University and many more which you can explore.
At Barnes Creative Studios (BCS) we get calls almost daily from Universities concerned about University accessibility lawsuits. The risk is high especially for those with third party media like virtual tours or videos. Most of the companies used for ADA compliance of a website do not address third party media. The problem here is either you are compliant or not. Not having third party media compliant makes someone an easy target for a university accessibility lawsuit.
BCS has 2 unique solutions to solve the accessibility problem with virtual tours. They are 2 very different angles to solve the issue of accessibility, one using data and one using alternative media. Both solutions are the only ones of their kind and are very complicated to create on the back end but easy for users to implement. We are using Syracuse University as an example so you can see the differences in each application of the solution.
The first version of our ADA compliant solution is for tours made with software from companies like Kuula or 3D Vista. Our solution is a custom player that displays the original tour as intended to be seen plus offers an accessible version by simply clicking an icon. The important part of the solution is that the icon can be accessed by screen readers as can all of the content on the compliant “side” of the tour. You can see an example of this first solution works in this example
For the second solution, 360 AG™, we are an official parter with the kind of virtual tours, Matterport. AS a partner with Matterport we are able to access the data from your Matterport virtual tour and this greatly streamlines the production process to help you avoid a university accessibility lawsuit. Below you can see an example of the Matterport solution from Syracuse University.
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STATEMENT REGARDING BARNES CREATIVE STUDIOS, THE ADA, AND WCAG
The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “places of public accommodation.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). A hot, but somewhat murky current issue centers upon the extent to which company websites fall within the scope of the ADA. Some courts, along with the Department of Justice, have taken the position that company websites are indeed covered by the ADA and must accordingly be accessible to people with various disabilities. Website accessibility can involve a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological. Accessibility issues involves both static website content and interactive or multimedia features and presentations. There are, however, no definitive or comprehensive governmental rules, the compliance with which guarantees an ADA-compliant website. The safest and most prudent course for companies that are otherwise subject to the ADA is the implementation of a web presence that complies with Version 2.0 or higher of the the World Wide Web Consortium’s (“W3C’s”) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”), which have been adopted by the Federal government for its own websites. (See https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/). Especially given the gray and evolving nature of the ADA/website issue, Barnes Creative Studios cannot guarantee the compliance of any particular item of Specified Media or Work Product. Rather, it is Client’s responsibility to make its own determinations and otherwise to ensure the compliance of its online materials. However, to assist clients in this quest for ADA compliance, Producer has developed a special, embedded media player for its “360 Virtual Tours.” This solution is designed to provide alternative accessibility for time-based media pursuant to WCAG 2.0 and includes: (1) an alternative, pre-recorded video-alternative Guided Virtual Tour; (2) a viewable transcript; (3) prerecorded audio description; and (4) live captions. The player allows both the standard interactive virtual tour and the alternative accessibility, allowing the largest universe of website visitors to see the client’s message and helping to minimize the possibility of ADA-related complaints or lawsuits.