A website is a basic requirement for most businesses. Even if you rely on word of mouth as a local restaurant, people often want to see your website to learn more about you and your business. Websites are no longer a optional part of your business, they are a necessity.
Unfortunately, websites can present risks, may of which are unknown to a business. While most people have heard about viruses and ransomware, most businesses do not know that they can be sued by persons claiming to be blind or deaf because they allege the website did not accommodate their particular disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or related state laws such as the California Unruh Act, or the New York State Discrimination Laws. What is more, there are now lawsuits being filed by the Pacific Trial Attorneys and Scott Ferrell claims that chat boxes violate wiretapping laws, and alleging that is a criminal offence.
With regard to the ADA, the two factors below could potentially put you at risk of a lawsuit alleging ADA non-compliance because of your website.
Your website isn’t compatible with screen-reading technology
Although your website may look nice on desktop computers and smart phones, it may not be accessible to those with limited vision. Many people with visual limitations will use special software that will narrate the contents of websites. The developers creating websites and applications have to code their creations in a specific way so that those with visual limitations can still access the website.
Other factors, like a lack of descriptions for videos and pictures, can also cause accessibility issues for those using specialized software. Even the font your web designer uses and the color contract on your website could lead to complaints.
An experienced ADA lawyer can test your website for not just compatibility but also for apparent compatibility. Web developers often overlook methods of lawsuit avoidance, and only look at WCAB compliance (which is not a requirement but may be one consideration). This is understandable since web developers cannot be expected to also be lawyers, let alone experienced ADA attorneys.
Wiretapping Claims for Chat Box Recording and Saving Data
More and more websites now have Chat Boxes. This can help drive business, but they are now a major source of concern. Each Chat Box is set up differently regarding what data is being recorded and saved, who has access to the information, if the person starting the chat has been informed of the recording and storing and use of the what is entered in the chat, and if third parties, including the company that supplies the chat box, has or may have access to anything in the chat. These claims are very new. You should consult with an experience law firm to find out if they have ever handled such a claim, and if so, how best to set up your website to avoid such claims.
Understanding how mistakes and shortcuts when developing your website could end up costing far more in the long run might help you avoid oversights that could lead to a website-related ADA lawsuit.