Reduce your liability exposure and gain market share. Win-win.
More About Litigation
The increase in litigation has been gradual since the ADA was enacted in 1990, but the recent increase in lawsuits against businesses for non-accessible websites is staggering. According to data from a leading law firm:
- 60 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in federal court in 2015.
- By 2017, that number had increased to 814.
- In 2018, there were 2,258 website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts.
That’s a 3600% increase in only 4 years. (… not including state court filings)
You may have read about some of this litigation in the headlines. Large companies like Target and Netflix have been sued, costing them millions of dollars. Recently, Winn-Dixie, a major grocery chain in the southeast, made the headlines for lack of website accessibility.
You may think that your risk of being sued is small because you are a small business. If you do, I beg to differ. Lawsuits against small businesses rarely make the news. But that doesn’t mean they are insignificant … particularly if you are the one that is sued. Consider this, if you will:
· In the three months of June, July and August 2018
· In only two of fifty states, namely Florida and New York
· In one single industry, namely healthcare
There were 30 ADA website accessibility lawsuits filed against healthcare businesses.
These businesses included radiology clinics, senior care centers, dental offices, pediatric offices, small hospitals, diagnostic centers, urgent care clinics and more. The outcomes of these cases are unknown because most are still in litigation. A couple of them have been settled on a confidential basis. Regardless, you can bet it cost a pretty penny.
Even prior to this, in 2017, there was an uptick in the threat of litigation against Texas dentists, who received demand letters from an attorney alleging that their websites violated the ADA for lack of accessibility. This prompted the American Dental Association— the other ADA—to send an email to its membership with an accessibility guidance document.
So How Do You Make Your Website Accessible?
Many people are under the misunderstanding that people with disabilities have special tools that enable them to navigate the web. Well, they do. The problem is that if your website isn’t accessible, those tools don’t work. There are several technical requirements to make a website accessible. Generally, a website is accessible if written content is coded for audio translation by vision-impaired users who depend on screen-reader software, if videos include descriptions for the deaf and on-screen captions for the blind, and if all interactive functions are operable through keyboard commands for people who can’t use a mouse … in addition to other disabilities such as color blindness and cognitive disabilities that need to be accounted for
Most web developers don’t include website accessibility because it is not a matter of a simple plug-in. It is technically complicated. It not only requires making your site accessible, but continuous monitoring to make sure the site stays compliant – not to mention staying up-to-date on ever-changing regulations and technical improvements.
For that reason, it is best to work with a company that specializes in web accessibility. Fortunately, one of my clients, Accessly Inc, does just that. If you would like to check them out, they are in beta right now and offering a discount to a select few. Use code “AprilAccess” for a 50% discount on setup. They also offer an ebook that goes into more depth about the background and process. Grab a copy here.
Because I like to practice what I preach, I am currently in the process of having my site made accessible. I will report back in four short weeks. To me, having a website that is accessible to all is a smart business strategy. And, it’s just the right thing to do.
An accessible website:
1. Reduces your risk of legal action and protects your business and assets and
2. Increases your target market to the 59 million persons with disabilities in the United States who struggle with online usage.