In 2009, a dispute arose over the accessibility of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) information materials. Materials including the nonprofit’s website, brochures and documents were being presented in formats that were inaccessible to the visually impaired.  In February of 2009, The American Council of the Blind (ACB) notified the American Cancer Society of the dispute and offered to initiate in Structured Negotiations in order to avoid a lawsuit.

The agreement between the two major organizations marks groundbreaking improvement in healthcare information for individuals with visual disabilities. The Structured Negotiations between the ACB and ACS set into motion a year-long agreement to improve the non-profit’s website and other promotional/ distribution materials to meet web accessibility standards. ACS also agreed to make its print materials accessible in a format that is usable for the visually impaired.

 American Cancer Society Agreed to:

  • ACS agreed to take necessary steps to ensure the organization’s website is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and the AA success criteria
  • ACS agreed to have an outside consultant appointed by the American Council for the Blind to aid in the development of a website that meets WCAG standards (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)
  • The organization agreed to post documents in PDF formats
  • ACS agreed to post their accessibility information as a page on their website, the information was required to be posted on the front page to describe the efforts to make the site accessible.
  • A short-term requirement was entered into with a visually impaired consult and to aid in generating training for ACS employees.
  • If either party feels the other organization is violating the provisions of the agreement, the party will notify the other and take steps to remedy the violation.
  • Under the agreement, ACS must offer live customers services assistance on a toll-free number available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for individuals with disabilities.
  • Among other provisions, the staff will receive accessibility training

American Cancer Society is country’s biggest non-governmental contributor to cancer research awarding over 3.5 billion dollars. While the large organization was able to avoid a costly lawsuit, they are being held to the strict and lengthy terms of a structured agreement. This could have been avoided if ACS had ensured the accessibility of their website by using a validation tool.

AuditGenie™ is a leading provider of an online website testing tool that is used by web developers, law firms, human resource professionals, and advocacy groups. AuditGenie™ can “crawl” 1,000’s of web pages on any website and provide both visual and automated reports that identify hidden website programming errors or warnings. Errors or warnings that left uncorrected could lead to lawsuits from special interest groups and/or violate ADA Regulations.