IDX Website ADA Compliance and Accessibility for Real Estate Agents

Real estate brokers with IDX websites displaying real estate listings from the MLS database have contacted me more and more as of mid 2020.

Recently, I’ve had multiple inquiries for WCAG 2.0 AA and 2.1 AA website accessibility audits from real estate agents.

Anecdotally, all of the inquiries have been from Florida because the Sunshine State is getting rocked by Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Website Compliance and Fair Housing Act (FHA) demand letters and lawsuits.

I use the term IDX website loosely because these are more realtor websites with IDX integration to import and display MLS listings on the website.

IDX is typically added and customized via a third party plugin. Commonly we see these as WordPress plugins but of course there are other platforms being used such as SquareSpace, Wix, Godaddy Website Builder, etc.

I recommend every website be ADA compliant (there is no formal legal prescription but we know what best practices are as of June 2020) and that recommendation extends to real estate professionals.

The IDX plugin or software is a third party integration. The data is pulled from MLS so that remains the same but we need to make sure that the information and functionality is accessible to those with disabilities.

Just as important, the rest of your website needs to be accessible. I’ve written on this topic many times but basically you want to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria (2.1 AA to take it up a notch – particularly if you offer a mobile app for smartphones).

Moreover, you want to be very sure that the most common website accessibility lawsuit claims are taken care of. Although it doesn’t mean your website is accessible, if you can get the WAVE accessibility tool (it’s an automated scan for your webpage) down to 0 errors, that’s a great start.

Keep in mind that automated checkers for website accessibility do not catch everything – they can’t. Rather, they’re just a rock solid starting point to preventing a lawsuit.

Also keep in mind that installing an automated accessibility toolbar overlays like AccessiBe, Userway, MaxAccess.io, Mk-Sense, EqualWeb, ADA Comply, etc. does not make your website accessible and they certainly don’t prevent lawsuits as we’re seeing time and again in court documents.

These widgets/overlays/plugins allow you to copy and paste a piece of JavaScript code in your website and several claim they can instantly make you ADA Compliant and fully meet WCAG 2.1.

They absolutely cannot and do not.

Obviously there are a multitude of brands and of the toolbars/menus offer different options but they don’t make your website on a fundamental level so it really doesn’t matter how many options they have.

Practically, lawsuits are being filed against websites that are using them.

If you need help with an audit or remediation (fixing) of your website, feel free to email me at kris@accessible.org.