Lawsuits accusing businesses of failing to ensure that their websites are accessible to deaf, blind, or otherwise disabled customers have been on the rise in recent years and show no sign of tapering off, say attorneys who specialize in accessibility litigation.
For a website to be accessible, written content must be coded for audio translation by vision-impaired users who depend on screen-reader software. Videos must include descriptions for the deaf and on-screen captions for the blind. All interactive functions must be operable through keyboard commands for people who can’t use a mouse.
Courts have ruled that websites must be accessible if they are connected to physical locations, such as retail stores, hotels and restaurants, or if they are operated by local governments that archive public documents and videos and stream live broadcasts of meetings, the attorneys say.
GrayRobinson’s Protopapadakis said she started seeing increases in the number of web-related ADA cases by South Florida plaintiffs in 2014 and 2015. “They started targeting large retailers and then moved on to mom-and-pops,” she said.