In California and across the U.S., it is important for business establishments to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is especially true for hotels and motels. However, website accessibility is a growing reason for ADA compliance lawsuits. It is essential for hotels to understand how to formulate a legal defense when confronted with these allegations.
Statistically, there has been an increase in lawsuits due to a lack of website accessibility. There were more than 2,250 such lawsuits in 2018. This is nearly three times as many as there were in 2017. One example is a case in California in which the claimant said a hotel’s website was inaccessible to those who had sight or hearing issues.
Clarity regarding the law in this context is a problem for hotels and motels. The internet was not prominent when the law was enacted 30 years ago. The law only required businesses to accommodate disabled people. There were no guidelines for the internet or apps. This has sparked rampant confusion and fear that lawsuits can be filed for unexpected reasons.
When there is a lawsuit due to websites being out of compliance for the ADA, hotels and motels should have a website audit to check whether it follows the guidelines; update the website so it is in compliance, and seek legal advice for a defense. To comply, the content must be described with “alt” text, the text should be easily re-sized, the website’s code and booking engine should support tools to assist those who need it, and users should be able to see documents in HTML. Hotels and motels should be aware of how to lodge a strong defense against these claims. A law firm experienced in ADA website lawsuits may be able to help.