There has been a rise in lawsuits filed against many consumer websites for violations of Title III of the ADA. Plaintiffs in these cases allege that ADA non-compliant websites are discriminatory because they are not accessible to people with vision or hearing disabilities.
Most of these lawsuits have been filed in New York, Florida, and California federal court and are styled as class action lawsuits. The relief sought is required website remediation to allow people with disabilities to access content.
There are also state and local statutory claims being asserted in New York claiming that websites violate human rights laws that guarantee equal access for people with disabilities.
At least 935 lawsuits were launched last year because companies failed to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.
Companies of all sizes must take steps to review their websites to assess whether they comply with the ADA and human rights laws. Any company with over 15 employees is subject to the ADA and its requirements, though small businesses can still be sued under human or civil rights statutes.
With the allure of attorney-fee awards incentivizing opportunistic plaintiff attorneys, more ADA lawsuits alleging website inaccessibility are sure to come. Internet usage and online shopping will only increase with time, thus keeping this issue distinctly in the legal spotlight. Business owners would be wise to bite the bullet and address website accessibility now before your card is pulled.
- Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content
- Don’t rely on color alone
- Use markup and style sheets, and do so properly
- Clarify natural language usage
- Create tables that transform gracefully
- Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully
- Ensure user control of time sensitive content changes
- Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces
- Design for device independence
- Use W3C technologies and guidelines
- Provide context and orientation information
- Provide clear navigation mechanisms
- Ensure that documents are clear and simple
- Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
- Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Provide users enough time to read and use content.
- Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
- Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
- Make text content readable and understandable.
- Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.