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Is Your Website Vulnerable to An ADA Website Lawsuit?

One of the reasons why the conversation around ADA web compliance has been increasing if because of the steady increase in lawsuits around website accessibility over the last few years.

If you aren’t yet familiar with ADA compliance, it refers to the American Disabilities Act, which declared that all public spaces must remove any access barriers that would inhibit a person with disabilities from accessing their business’s goods and services.

Many courts have interpreted this law to deem websites a “public space”, making them vulnerable to a lawsuit if not made usable for those with disabilities. There current list of guidelines is called WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and has a list of standards that make the website perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. This includes making it accessible to be interpreted by screen readers, or those using an adapted keyword, or readable to those with visual impairments.

While we believe that accessibility for all is important regardless of the law, the threat of litigation is also a driving force behind many companies making the changes to become compliant. You don’t want to wait until your faced with a lawsuit to realize you should be making sure your website is up to the latest ADA standards.

Some Quick ADA Website Lawsuit Stats

A study from UseableNet broke down some of the numbers of all the federally filed ADA web-accessibility related lawsuits. Here are some of the stats.

  • From 2017 to 2018, lawsuits are up over 181%, with 2,285 cases overall
  • Lawsuits were filed in almost every US state, with 2 standouts – New York and Florida. 32% of lawsuits came from Florida with an average of 61 cases filed per month last year, with 64% from New York with 123 per month average.
  • 11% of companies sued are headquartered internationally in countries like Italy, Japan, or Brazil.

Industry Patterns

To be clear, businesses of any industries can be affected by an ADA web compliance lawsuit, and studying the cases shows many industries have been affected. However, there are a few patterns that stand out, including:

  • Retail
  • Food Service
  • Travel & Hospitality
  • Banking & Finance
  • Entertainment & Leisure
  • Self-Service

Many popular businesses you have probably heard of or interacted with before have been faced with lawsuits over their websites. Restaurants that have been targeted include popular chains like Hooter’s and Domino’s Pizza, and retailers include Winn Dixie, CVS, Kmart and other supermarkets. Even universities like MIT and Harvard have had cases brought against them. However, it’s not just limited to larger businesses. Smaller, local businesses in the Southwest Florida area have been served lawsuits as well.

Throughout these lawsuits, there has been confusion over whether web compliance can apply to online-only businesses or retailers. Some courts have interpreted the laws differently, but many courts have concluded that websites still need to be compliant regardless of if there is a physical location for the business or not. However, the numbers show a brick-and-mortar stores website may be more susceptible to a lawsuit.

Government Funded Websites

Any government agency or institution that receives state or federal funding should pay extra attention to ADA compliance. In addition to the American Disabilities Act, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. So the need for government agencies to have their websites to be compliant is especially important. This includes federal agencies, nonprofits that receive state funding, and public education institutions.

State and local government institutions typically use their websites to offer members of the community important services, resources, and information; so, it is imperative that everyone has access to that, and someone filing a complaint could lead to a hefty lawsuit.

Work with A Digital Agency to Make Your Website ADA Compliant

While some industries, locations, and business types may be more prone to an ADA compliance lawsuit, the fact of the matter is – if you have a business, and your business has a website, you are at risk of being sued if it is not accessible. In addition to the threat of litigation, not having your website accessible could be making you lose out on a large segment of customers.

At Atilus, we specialize in making websites ADA compliance to follow with the latest WCAG standards. If you are interested in a new website, an ADA audit, or making updates to a current site – we can help you become compliant. Contact us today for more information!

Sydney Fahrenbruch
Sydney Fahrenbruch
Sydney is Atilus' Digital Marketing Engineer. She works with clients on digital marketing activities for client accounts from monthly maintenance, to reporting and making recommendations. Her expertise includes PPC advertising, social media management, content marketing, and creative strategy.

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