The best way to prevent legal problems caused by inaccessible products and services is to work with individuals with disabilities to make sure those products and services are accessible in the first place.
Recognizing this, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requires manufacturers and service providers to maintain records of the steps they took to comply with the CVAA’s rules regarding Advanced Communications Services and mobile web browsers.
Specifically, manufacturers and service providers must maintain:
- Information about efforts to consult with individuals with disabilities;
- Descriptions of accessibility features; and
- Information about compatibility with third-party devices used by individuals with disabilities.
In addition, manufacturers and services providers must submit an annual certification to the Federal Communiations Commission (FCC) affirming that these records are being maintained. The records themselves do not need to be submitted, though the FCC may request them in the event of a formal or informal complaint.
Although these recordkeeping rules do not specifically require organizations to consult with individuals with disabilities, doing so is a de facto requirement. Because many of the CVAA’s requirements focus on features being accessible to individuals with different disabilities, it will in most cases be very difficult to comply without consulting with people with a variety of disabilities during the product design process. Plus, the FCC will likely view an organization’s failure to consult with individuals with disabilities very unfavorably in the event of a consumer complaint.
To fully comply with CVAA rules, individuals with disabilities should be consulted at every stage of product development to evaluate the accessibility, usability, and compatibility of the product or service. Individuals with disabilities should be included during initial market research, product design, testing, pilot demonstrations, and product trials, when appropriate.
To learn more about CVAA’s requirements, download our free whitepaper, “The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.”