According to national statistics, the number of web accessibility lawsuits filed increased by an incredible 183 percent from 2017 to 2018. In 2019, it is estimated that there were approximately 40 website accessibility lawsuits filed each week. One of the main reasons for these lawsuits is that the websites were not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). As an ADA website litigation lawyer in Washington, D.C. can explain, the ADA requires that all information and electronic technology needs to be accessible to people with disabilities. The ADA covers any company with 15 or more employees.
Keeping this law in mind, both businesses and the web design company they hire to develop their websites need to be cognizant that websites need to be ADA compliant. Failure to do so could result in the business facing serious legal issues that require the assistance of a Washington, D.C. ADA website litigation lawyer.
Although the ADA is not specific in its requirements for website compliance, there have been some guidelines put forth that companies should be following. The first such direction was issued in 2010 with the publication of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA Standards for Accessible Design. These standards, which were released by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), states that all electronic information from commercial and public entities must be accessible by people with disabilities. This information encompasses software, hardware, and documentation.
An ADA website litigation lawyer in Washington, D.C. knows there is also Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (“WCAG”) which was published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (“WAI”) of the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”). These guidelines have dozens of recommendations that website developers should implement when designing websites for customers.
No matter what type of business you have, whether large or small, the regulations are the same as they are for physical location compliancy. Any entity that employs 15 or more employees needs to have a website that is ADA compliant, just as a company’s physical location must be.
While many lawsuits that have been filed are against companies most of us will never be aware of, there have been several notable website compliance lawsuits that have been filed against well-known entities.
In 2019, a visually impaired woman filed a lawsuit against the singer Beyoncé, alleging she was unable to use some of the key features of the singer’s website because of its lack of standards outlined in the WCAG 2.0. As of this writing, the litigation is still pending. Some of the issues cited in the lawsuit included:
Domino’s Pizza also was a defendant in a web accessibility lawsuit filed by a claimant who was blind in 2016. The claimant alleged in the lawsuit that he was unable to access neither the company’s website nor their mobile app, even with a screen-reader, in order to order food. The lawsuit was originally dismissed without prejudice by the district court where it was filed, but the claimant appealed the dismissal, and the appeals court overturned the district court’s decision to dismiss and said the lawsuit could proceed. Dominos appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined to review the decision and sent the case back to the district court for trial. The case is still pending as of this writing.