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Online businesses: Beware claims of ADA noncompliance

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2022 | ADA |

When you go onto a website and it is not ADA compliant, you likely wouldn’t know unless you live with a disability. For someone who has a disability, such as a visual impairment, particularly the blind who use “screen readers” to read what is on a website, websites that are no set up well to assist the disabled, may cause access problems, frustration, which may end up as a legal claim.

Some people are now targeting online businesses claiming that their websites are not accessible and are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA. They claim the website does not meet WCAG standards (which may or may not have application to a particular website), and they may also claim there is no Website Accessibility Statement (WAS) or that the WAS is incorrect. See AccessibilityStatements.com.

News from late in 2018 reflected these changes, as thousands of businesses found that they were being sued over ADA compliance violations. The company, in this case, Avanti Hotel, was claimed to have violated the act for failing to make its website accessible to people who have trouble hearing or seeing.

The hotel is just one of several companies that have now been caught up in a wave of allegations and ADA lawsuits that are targeting websites around the United States. In the first six months of 2018, 1,053 companies were sued over their websites. That number was expected to more than double by the end of that year. Today there are 10 times as many lawsuits and claims being made, and the lawsuits and claims are growing at an alarming rate.

Why are websites being targeted for ADA compliance issues?

There are a few changes in the way that people shop and work that have made website compliance vital. Those with disabilities want to be able to access modern commerce like anyone else, which means that more pressure has been put on companies to do more to make their websites accessible to both increase business and at the same time prevent an ADA website lawsuit.

The issue is that there are no standards set by the government. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created by a group of web innovators, but those are in no way required by law.  The Karlin Law Firm has created a 6 point ADA website lawsuit prevention program designed to substantially reduce the risk of ADA website lawsuits.

It can be hard for businesses to overhaul their sites. Depending on how complex a website is, it could cost anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars to make a website accessible. The cost of defending against these allegations can be astronomical and burdensome, too.

For Avanti Hotel, the overhaul on the website could cost $3,000, which the manager says he’d be willing to cover. At the time of the article, several pages of the site were replaced with plain type, because under ADA guidelines, no access is equal access for all.