It does not matter if you are a local restaurant, hotel, hospital, auto repair, law firm, a large company or Rihanna, you are vulnerable to being sued over your website not being accessible to people with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was one of the landmark pieces of legislation for disabled people, guaranteeing them broad rights of access and shaping building codes across the United States. It also applies to the Internet, but few people have paid much attention.
Now that website compliance with ADA standards is becoming a bigger issue, companies are sitting up and taking notice. If you’re not sure whether your website is accessible, it probably isn’t. But here are a few common areas you can check to confirm.
The number of businesses being sued over their website not being compliant has skyrocketed!
There were over 4,000 lawsuits in 2018 and we are on pace to triple, quadruple that or more!
What is frustrating is how little information has been distributed or broadcast to allow California based businesses to know that these laws exist and give them the opportunity to prepare themselves to avoid the onslaught of lawsuits.
1. California Court Of Appeal’s Midvale Decision Opens The Floodgates For More Website Accessibility Lawsuits
The court held that that Title III of the ADA applies to a restaurant website because the website has a nexus with a physical place. Citing to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Domino’s, the Court held that “including websites connected to a physical place of public accommodation is not only consistent with the plain language of Title III, but it is also consistent with Congress’s mandate that the ADA keep pace with the changing technology to effectuate the intent of the statute.”
Third Party Content. In response to Midvale’s argument that its website did not really connect customers to its location because customers are directed to a third party reservation service website to make a reservation, the Court of Appeal said “appellant offers no legal support for its theory that it cannot be liable for ADA discrimination if hires someone else to do the discrimination.” This comment and the related analysis suggest that the court would be inclined to hold businesses accountable for the inaccessibility of websites of third parties with whom they contract to provide services to customers.
2. What should businesses need to know especially in CA?
1. 97% of websites in the US do not comply.
2. If your developer has not spoken with you about accessibility, you are probably not compliant.
3. The lawsuits are hitting the hospitality industry and branching out more and more each month. We noticed the first case we saw in August where a law firm was sued.
4. There is not grace period to fix your site if you are sued.
5. As with all laws, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
“ADA compliance is much of our business, what we are seeing is that most companies in this field either want to force you to purchase an Audit or are missing several key points for accessibility especially with regards to screen readers.” said president of Web Search Pros, Glen Ingram who was recently interviewed for https://www.entrepreneur.com/. “When most of the lawsuits are related to disabled people with vision issues, I would think web accessibility companies would learn more about that and focus on that for their customers. That could be the reason that 1 in 4 lawsuits in 2019 for for businesses that have previously been sued. This is a great article.”
25% of al ADA lawsuites in 2019 naming a dependent for at least the second time.
48% of top retailers sued.
3. What disabilities are we talking about?
various types of color blindness;
Motor/mobility: e.g. difficulty or inability to use the hands, including tremors, muscle slowness,
loss of fine muscle control, etc.,
Seizures: Photo epileptic seizures caused by visual strobe or flashing effects
4. What issues are we seeing businesses run into?
1. You built an inexpensive site yourself. These are not compliant.
2. Finding a company that fully understand compliance with WCAG.
3. Companies that insist on selling you an audit. You spend way more than just hiring a qualified company to provide you with an accessible site. (This is less expensive in almost all instances.)
4. Maintaining accessibility. (It is important to have an ongoing relationship with a company that will keep your site complaint.)
5. Knowing who to trust in an area that seems very confusing.
5. Are you vulnerable?
In February 2019, WebAIM conducted an accessibility evaluation of the home pages for the top 1,000,000 web sites.
The “top” million web sites were gleaned primarily using the Majestic Millions list of domains with most referring subnets. Because not all domains have home pages, the list of domains was supplemented with the top 250,000 domains from the Open PageRank Initiative that were not already in the Majestic Million list.
97.8% of home pages had detectable WCAG 2 failures! These are only automatically detectable errors that align with WCAG conformance failures with a high level of reliability. Because automatically detectable errors constitute a small portion of all possible WCAG failures, this means that the actual WCAG 2 A/AA conformance level for the home pages for the most commonly accessed web sites is very low, perhaps below 1%.
No matter what line of business you’re in, accessibility matters for your website. Make sure you’re in line with the ADA standards. Check your site for these common problem areas and protect yourself from the consequences.