WHY YOUR COMPANY WEBSITE

MUST BE "ACCESSIBLE" 

Which businesses are required to comply with the ADA?

First, it's important to understand which businesses are legally required to comply under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  Title III of the ADA outlines that businesses are required to comply as long as they are considered "public accommodations."  Being that so much of our lives depend on using the internet, businesses such as restaurants, doctors, insurance agencies, attorneys, retailers, and government organizations alike, are required to comply with both physical and digital accommodations.

National Federation of the Blind spokesperson stated:

"Most proprietors don’t realize they are liable for providing customers with the digital equivalent of a ramp."

 

Over 8 million people in America are visually impaired, with 2 million being blind.  In August 2018, the National Retail Federation recently outlined that web accessibility cases have quadrupled since 2016, which equates to 20 times more than what the courts saw in 2015.  Also, 38 out of 50 US states now have residing companies that were hit with website-related ADA federal lawsuits, leading to resolution payouts of $10,000 up to $100,000.  As legal action skyrockets, nearly 10,000 ADA cases have been accounted for in 2018.  These figures do not even include the 1,000's of cases which were settled before litigation.

Companies including, Domino's Pizza, Olive Garden, Target, Outback Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse, Chick-fil-APF Chang’s, Kylie Jenner Cosmetics, Winn-Dixie Grocery Store, and thousands of others have been hit with federal lawsuits that allege their websites are inaccessible to those who are visually impaired.  Now, small to medium-sized entities are being targeted. Just a small taste of these include, Brooklyn Brewery, Wölffer Estate Winery, Bedell Cellars, and Peter Luger Steakhouse.

Damages and potential litigation are now exposed to companies due to the conjunctive actions and these suits expose companies to not only potential court costs and fines, but also the negative publicity that's associated. Accordingly, it is important for businesses of all sizes, who are considered "public accommodations", to be cognizant of the need for ADA web compliance.

With the vast amount of cases recently filed, that directly focus on website accessibility, the risks are now higher than ever for businesses offering a place of public accommodation online. The attorney fees charged to plaintiffs, and how easy it is to find non-compliant websites, show that these federal lawsuits will continue at an exponential rate.

Does this only pertain to larger corporations?

While the larger businesses enhance their websites and bring them up to accessible compliance (at their own will, or by settlement) plaintiffs now look to target smaller companies. To limit the risk of being sued, it is vital to know about ADA website compliance and the consequences that may arise from being non-compliant.

Although the plaintiff attorneys typically take home most of the case winnings, many business owners decide on settling due to the trial expenses leading to costs that could take the company under.  On that note, businesses prefer to invest in serving customers with disabilities, over paying to avoid being attacked by attorneys that do not have the actual plaintiffs best interests in mind.

Accessibility lawsuits specific to websites are continuing at a record pace throughout the USA, says State Senators.  Also, anticipate similar accessibility claims to be forthcoming specific to apps for tablets and phones.  Do not delay, now is the time to make your website, and apps compliant with accessibility standards. 

 

Not only will having an accessible website protect you from potential legal issues, these enhancements also open your company doors to an entirely new customer base that you once could not serve equally.  At the end of the day, and with proper positive promotion, enhancing your website to be accessible to people with disabilities will not only help those who are less fortunate physically, but also lead to revenue growth that far exceeds the investment and legal costs that could be associated with not being compliant.

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