If you own a hotel in California, you are probably aware that you are a target for drive-by lawsuits for non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This act requires you to provide access for those with disabilities to all public areas of your building. A drive-by complaint typically involves someone who comes to your establishment specifically looking for areas in which you are not conforming to ADA standards.
Even if you are diligent about keeping your property compliant with ADA, you may be overlooking something. In addition to drive-by lawsuits, hotels are frequently the subject of click-by complaints. These accuse the hotels of running websites that are not accessible to those with disabilities. Since ADA laws regarding websites are vague, such lawsuits are growing at an alarming rate.
What does the law require?
In the past two years, ADA lawsuits related to hotel websites have skyrocketed almost 200% from previous years. While you certainly want to protect yourself from a costly and damaging lawsuit, more importantly, you want everyone to have access to your establishment, including your website. Some important factors in an ADA compliant website include the following:
- Allowing someone with a disability the same conveniences for reserving a room online as anyone who does not require an accessible room
- Guaranteeing that a reservation for a guest who requires specific accessibilities overrides a request for the same room by someone who does not have a disability
- Ensuring that a guest who has reserved an accessible room because of a disability is not at risk of losing that reservation by another guest who requests that specific room
- Providing ample details about the accessible features available so that a potential guest can determine whether your hotel meets his or her needs
- Holding for potential guests with disabilities any rooms with accessible features until all other similar rooms are reserved
You may benefit from a tech professional who can ensure your website has other accessibility features, such as text alternatives, easy-to-read text, keyboard functionality and navigational aids.
If someone files a click-by complaint against you claiming your website does not meet these ADA rules, you can be certain it will not be the last complaint you receive. Even if your website complies with ADA, you may face a barrage of legal issues. You would be wise to seek the guidance of an attorney who can assist you in defending against an attack from someone who may be using a helpful and necessary law as a weapon against business owners like you.