Mark Lacek, founder of marketing agencies The Lacek Group and Denali, has started Accessible360, a several-employee firm that works so far with 10 client companies to make sure their websites are accessible to Americans with impaired vision, hearing or cognitive disabilities.
This in advance of rules expected by 2018 from federal regulators on website compliance under the 26-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, which regulates barriers to physical access. Lacek said multiple courts as well as the U.S. Department of Justice have held that the ADA also applies to websites, requiring them to be accessible to all.
Although Justice has not issued definitive rules, multiple DOJ publications and settlement documents suggest that the proper standard by which to measure website compliance with the ADA are the so-called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Accessible360, which isn’t the first of these types of businesses, audits websites for compliance, makes repairs to restore usability and monitors sites for ongoing issues. Accessible360 also provides training and guidance to “bake accessibility” into the technology design process, so it just isn’t a one-time event, Lacek said.
“Many of us will face different disabilities — vision loss, hearing loss, changes in mobility — as we age,” said co-founder Michele Landis.“We are all what the disability community refers to as TABs — temporarily able-bodied. Our consultancy can step in as a third-party partner for any business.”
Clients include AM Retail Group, which represents Wilsons Leather and G.H. Bass & Co.
Lacek, 60, 30 years ago worked at the former Northwest Airlines as director of business travel marketing, where he helped launch its frequent-flier program. He subsequently started several of his own businesses.