When most people think of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), they think of physical locations and the accommodations that businesses are legally required to provide for people with disabilities. For example, businesses need to ensure their locations are wheelchair accessible or provide Braille for their customers who are visually impaired. What many people do not realize is that the ADA also requires businesses to ensure that their website content is also available to those with disabilities, as well. The following is a brief overview of ADA digital compliance. For more details, contact a Washington, D.C. ADA compliance lawyer from Eric Siegel Law.
Unlike the regulations for the physical locations spelled out in the ADA, there are no clear regulations for companies to follow when it comes to making sure their website is ADA compliant, only that the site must offer “reasonable accessibility.” This vagueness has led to a spike in the number of claims and lawsuits that have been filed by disabled plaintiffs against businesses because they say that their websites and/or apps were not accessible.
The number of lawsuits is expected to rise when you consider how many websites in the U.S. are not ADA compliant. To get an idea of how prevalent are the issues, consider a study conducted by industry watchdog WebAIM. The organization analyzed more than one million home pages of both small and large companies and found that 98 percent of these sites failed to meet requirements for website accessibility under the ADA.
The study found that one of the biggest issues are for visually impaired website users who use a screen reader. Screen readers are software that reads the content to the user as they move the cursor over the information. On many websites, the content is not coded to be screen reader compatible.
A Washington D.C. ADA compliance lawyer knows that there are many businesses that can be affected by these legal requirements, including retail establishments, medical practices, restaurants, hair salons, florists, and more. A claim against a business can result in serious financial impact. The business not only will need to make modifications to their website, they may also be liable for the plaintiff’s legal fees, as well as their own, and may have to pay the plaintiff damages.
There are steps a business can take to make sure their website is ADA compliant before it becomes an expensive legal issue. An ADA compliance lawyer in Washington, D.C recommends the following: