If Your Website Isn’t ADA Compliant, You May Have To Face Litigation

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When you’ve undergone a website project, you know the protocol like the layout, the sitemap, the functionality, responsive, etc. But have you ever thought about how accessible your website is to all users? 

A website is a welcome door to your business. Also, it is the doorway to take your business that takes it on a hike as well as deteriorate the value. The reason behind unsuccessful web design can be the experience or we can say the problems faced by users who are not able to access your website effectively. 

Web accessibility has become the prime concern for organizations about the liability risk of websites that are not ADA compliant.

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

The first thing for every business owner is to know what actually ADA compliance states. In a layman language, ADA compliance is the “American Disability Act” which was enacted in 1990 for website owners to add special features in the websites so that everyone can easily access it including people with many disabilities. Now the question is, how can you add special features? And the answer is, consider the below points for which type of challenges you can give facility on your website that would become easy for them to access it. The disabilities covered in ADA are:

  • Blindness
  • Hearing impairments
  • Mobility/Musculoskeletal
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurological/Cognitive
  • Cerebral Palsy

How Do ADA Compliant Websites Work?

Talking about the performance of ADA compliant websites, these websites work according to the ease and comfort of the users who are unable to access the website.

The websites work for web visitors with visual impairments efficiently with features like keyboard navigation and compatibility with screen reader tools. 

For individuals with hearing impairment, the website must include features so that they can take full advantage of media. This can be done by adding text transcripts that offer an alternative for consuming audio and video content. 

Moreover, there are many people suffering from mobility challenges who need a more reliable method. The ADA compliant website should consider their difficulty of clicking links and buttons and add an alternative as reliable methods for them. 

The problems facing individuals with neurological impairments are often less obvious. People with cognitive disabilities may face flashing images, moving texts be too challenging to comprehend.

Steps To Make Your Website ADA Compliant 

After analyzing your website, still, you are not satisfied to ensure that your website is ADA compliant or not. Here are a few steps to make your website according to the law. 

  • A good first step is having a basic knowledge of ADA compliance. 
  • A website audit is the best option to go with in order to get a complete report to determine the level of compliance or non-compliance. 
  • You can publish an accessibility statement on your website. It may help hold off a lawsuit if you have demonstrated a clear plan for an ADA compliant website.

Isn’t Your Website ADA Compliant? You Are More Likely To Face Litigation

It’s a myth that web design and user experience suffers when websites are built to comply with the ADA. It’s also a myth that websites lose ideal, user-centric functionality when they become ADA-compliant. These myths lead to the website towards non-ADA-compliant websites.

As a consequence, chances are more likely to face a lawsuit if a person with disability claims they cannot access your website. You might undergo legal fees, a possible settlement, a potential public relations problem, and the cost of rebuilding your website so as to comply with the ADA. 

Learn about all the following risks of not having the ADA compliant website and protect your business or organization.

Federal Court 

There are many risks to a non-ADA compliant website. The biggest risk is a potential lawsuit from the plaintiff with disability claims they do not have adequate access to the content on your website. Most of the lawsuits fall under the following categories:

  • A consumer who cannot access or purchase goods and services on the eCommerce website. 
  • A student who is not able to access the website of the university to apply online due to his disability.
  • A person who is interested to fill out a job application online but cannot access the website. 

The Rising Trend of ADA Website Compliance Lawsuits

If you are in a dilemma that whether your website needs to be ADA compliant or not then you must need to know a legal blog -The Seyfarth ADA Title III & Insights, that’s been tracking the rise of ADA website compliance lawsuits, 751 suits have been filed against website owners since the start of 2015, with 432 of these suits being filed in the first half of 2017 alone.

This alarming trend is throwing the online world into a frenzy. Website owners, major corporations, and digital publishers are uncertain of whether they’re legally obliged to make their content more accessible to users with disabilities. The main reason for this puzzle is the lack of legal consensus on which website falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and the ADA. Websites fall into this category are considered as “a place of public accommodation”. This is essentially an extension of a physical location such as a brick and mortar store at a university. 

The Winn Dixie Case

A grocery store chain in Florida, Winn Dixie came up with some of these issues when it became the first ADA website compliance lawsuit. The plaintiff argued that 90% of the website is inaccessible using the software JAWS, a software program that reads the text on the screen for visual impairment. The court ruled that Winn-Dixie violated the law because of the supplementary content offered on the website. Thus the content tied to the store’s physical location, such as coupons for in-store purchase, store location service, and the option to renew the prescription medication online. 

The Blick Art Materials Case

In August 2017, a visually-impaired individual brought a suit against Blick Art Supplies in New York, arguing that the website was not designed according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York opened the door to digital accessibility, saying “a rigid adherence to a physical nexus requirement leaves potholes of discrimination in what would otherwise be a smooth road to integration.

As you can see, the court’s decision in these two cases contradict one another. This opens the floodgates for more ADA website compliance lawsuits. While many of these cases are handled privately behind closed doors, it’s unclear which cases will hold up in court. As a website owner, you might forgo ADA compliance because your website isn’t considered a place of public accommodation. That outcome is far from assured in court.

In conclusion, as a business owner or digital publisher, you need to be mindful of the risks of not having an ADA compliant website. With ADA website compliance lawsuits surging, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to deal with this issue. If you decide not to comply with the ADA, you’re in trouble. New legal precedents are being set all the time. So, be sure to stay tuned for the latest news on ADA website compliance laws.