CLIENT ALERT: NEW-WAVE OF ADA LAWSUITS AGAINST WEBSITE OWNERS

Business Owners: Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

When most business owners think about the Americans with Disabilities Act they think of the various requirements related to things like ramps, doorway width, handicapped parking spots, and much more. Case law is quickly developing indicating that the ADA standards can also apply to websites. Specifically, websites are considered “places of public accommodation,” which means that any barriers to a disabled person need to be removed. As a result, plaintiff attorneys are actively seeking out cases to pursue. In recent months, a new wave of lawsuits has come en vogue, where a disabled plaintiff (with the assistance of a plaintiff’s attorney) will sue a website owner for failure to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled users on its websites.

There are already numerous lawsuits that have already been filed against major corporations that aren’t in compliance with ADA website standards. Many of these suits are targeting large companies because of the deep pockets and the potential for a big settlement. As these cases work their way through the courts, however, it is likely that more suits are filed against businesses of all sizes. Thus, you may find your business exposed soon. You can read more about the first example of this type of lawsuit HERE.

If your business owns a website, you should strongly consider a compliance plan. If you fail to comply, any lawsuit would be tough to defend and likely result in the business settling to get out of a trial. Make no mistake about it, it will feel like a “shakedown”. So, it’s best to avoid it if you can.

Examples of ADA Compliance Requirements for Websites

The specific requirements that are in place for websites are being updated regularly because this is a fairly new area for the ADA. As a result, there aren’t hard and fast requirements that are certain to demonstrate your compliance. However, the following are some of the key areas that all website owners should be aware of:

1. Alternatives to Text – Websites should have options to share information for those who can’t read text. This could include voice, symbols, large print, and other options.

2. Time Limitations – Many sites have time limits by which a consumer has to take action. For example, if you select seats for buying tickets to a sporting event, they often must be purchased within 3-5 minutes. There needs to be a way that those with a disability can get extended amounts of time.

3. Improved Contrast & Viewability – Those with vision problems often have trouble with standard website designs. Having alternative options with higher contrast, more distinguished foreground and background options, and other things to help make it easier.

4. Keyboard Accessible – All functionalities of a website should be able to be engaged with just a keyboard for those who have problems with a mouse.

5. Avoid Seizure Inducing Features – Flashing lights and movement can trigger seizures. This type of design should be avoided.

6. Many More – There are many other requirements and recommendations in place regarding how to ensure you are serving those with disabilities as well as possible.

How Can We Help

Doida Law Group does not offer website design or consultation services. Our main goal is to advise you of a new trend in the law so that you can protect your business. Thus, it’s best to work with your website designer to implement some of these compliance features. The ADA does have some resources available to help businesses ensure their website is in compliance. A good place to start is the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit. If you have any questions or concerns about your website, or you have been contacted by another party saying that you are not in compliance, we are here to help. Contact Doida Law Group to discuss your specific needs today.

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