Recent Rise in Web Accessibility Lawsuits

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Summary: Business owners need to be aware of the aggressive nature of these lawsuits and should investigate the “best” solutions for their websites and their businesses.
Today, by the power of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), every business website has to be accessible to people with disabilities. The Law prohibits discrimination based on disability by places of “public accommodation”, meaning websites or brick-and-mortar facilities.
People with disabilities, specifically those who are blind or visually impaired, have been filing lawsuits against businesses over website accessibility issues. From 2017 to 2018, the number of federal website accessibility lawsuits nearly tripled, from 814 to 2258, according to the law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
Recent lawsuits include the websites of large companies such as Dominos (Robles v. Domino’s Pizza), Five Guys (Lucia Markett v. Five Guys), Hobby Lobby (Sean Gorecki v. Hobby Lobby), and Winn-Dixie (Gil vs. Winn-Dixie) grocery store who had to pay $105K.
 
The Avanti Hotel in Palm Springs was recently sued and the plaintiff is looking for $13k in damages. This $13k is in addition to the hotel making the needed changes to the website. The hotel’s lawyer said that it would cost upwards of $25k in damages, plus lawyer fees if they fight the suit and lose. Recently a small shoe store in Clearwater, FL was named in a similar lawsuit. Small businesses are at risk as well.
 
Those lawsuits involved visually impaired people trying to access the companies’ websites. These lawsuits have all been filed under ADA Title III. This is the “public access” section of the ADA compliance.
 
Owing to this alarming shift, we have been searching for different solutions.

“Business Owners Need To Be Aware”

Alternative solutions involved hiring a company or a web accessibility expert that would manually change the website’s code, which could cost $5000+ for a solution that requires continued upkeep. 
Another option is to install a web accessibility plugin which achieves only 20% compliance making you vulnerable to lawsuits since it does not abide by the legislative guidelines.
Most webmasters implement many elements that are required like “Alt tags”, fields on images, tab navigation, skip to main content and other items. However, these items do not provide other needed corrections for text size, image and contrast, navigation, and other factors.
 
Maintaining compliance means that every time the website is updated that it has to be checked again. It’s not a once and done change, rather an ongoing service to stay in compliance. Laws and guidelines change, and websites need to be updated.
 
Recently we found an automatic, simple, and affordable solution – an AI automatic system that can achieve full ADA compliance within 48 hours. The company that developed the system is accessiBe. The service is a monthly or annual fee for less than $750 / year. It does not physically change your site. A line of code is added to the site. The site tool offers options for the visitor to select based on their disability. The view of the ADA-friendly website version is an overlay, not with physical changes to the site.
 
Business owners need to be aware of the aggressive nature of these lawsuits and should investigate the “best” solutions for their websites and their businesses.

Contact WSI Net Advantage at 510-687-9737 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

About the Author

Kevin Dean

Kevin specializes in helping businesses grow via better utilization of the Internet to generate leads and increase visibility. 
As a Certified Advertising Professional and trained Search Engine Optimization expert, Kevin identifies opportunities for increasing online branding, lead generation opportunities, and overall return on investment through better web strategies. 
After spending 20 years in high tech manufacturing and senior operations management, Kevin will assess, construct and implement the right process for your online marketing goals.

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