The last 12 months have put massive stress on businesses as they attempt to navigate the pandemic. Into that trouble has dropped another threat. An ADA lawsuit could arrive claiming your business’ website does not meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ADA Lawsuits Have Arisen as a Tool to Drive Businesses to Make Websites ADA Compliant
No one argues about the need for accessibility. As part of the massive shift in social behavior driven by the pandemic, consumers have accelerated the shift of their shopping habits online. eCommerce has boomed. So, people with disabilities have increased the call to make eCommerce accessible to all.
And there are ADA compliance tools available to help web developers bring a business’ web properties into compliance.
Unfortunately for businesses of all sizes, that is easier said than done. And a precedent was set in 2006 when the National Federation of the Blind successfully sued Target over their website’s inaccessibility to blind people. Websites were declared “places of public accommodation” and could not discriminate against anyone, including those with disabilities.
The lawsuit opened all businesses to being sued over ADA non-compliance. In the last few years, more law firms have begun to target firms of any size with lawsuits.
This is completely random from a business’ perspective, of course. Most smaller businesses are completely unaware of the Target ruling and have no idea they need to comply with ADA accessibility guidelines. Usually the lawsuits arrive “out of the blue,” with multi-thousand-dollar price tags.
An ADA lawsuit may carry big damage claims
“Lawyers have become more aggressive, searching for websites that are out of ADA, WCAG and 508 compliance and have filed lawsuits against those companies,” notes Ken O’Donnell, owner of SEOPros and KO Websites. “Initially, these lawsuits targeted e-commerce websites that made it difficult for people with some disabilities to make an online purchase. However, lawyers now seem to be turning their focus on any commercial, non-profit or governmental service. This puts all companies and even nonprofit organizations at risk. We see ADA-WCAG lawsuits range from $75,000 and above.”
In addition, your promises to remedy the situation are not guaranteed to win your business relief from the damages claim.
The Best Protection from an ADA Lawsuit is Proactive Compliance
What steps can a business take now to protect itself from an ADA compliance lawsuit?
- Step One: Conduct a website audit to identify gaps in compliance. No captions on videos, no screen readers for blind browsers, etc. And create a plan to achieve compliance.
- Step Two: Install ADA software that manipulates website content (graphics as well as text) to meet specific user needs. See an example using the icon to the left of each page on KO-Websites.com or SEOPro.pro. (Example below)
- Step Three: Run regular audits of your site to monitor ongoing compliance. This evidence is your best defense as they exhibit proactive intent to provide as much accessibility as possible.
For more detailed information on how we get your website to comply with ADA standards, invest 18 minutes to watch this video introduction: