In the digital age, it is crucial for businesses to understand the legal risks a potentially vulnerable website can present under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to federal dockets, 216 lawsuits were filed last year under Title III, alleging inaccessibility to company websites that aren’t set up for the visually impaired.
What does it mean? Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in places of public accommodation and commercial facilities for all types of businesses that serve the public, is extending beyond its previous confines of the brick-and-mortar definition and into the realm of cyberspace.
A few years ago, this would have been unheard of, but now? More lawsuits are expected in the future, with the retail, hospitality and restaurant industries being the prime targets. Few businesses realize this is taking root and may not gain awareness until slapped with a lawsuit.
Targeted businesses are trying to fight back, offering up various legal arguments ranging from claims that there aren’t any clearly established rules on how to makes websites accessible under the current version of Title III to the simple fact there is no legal standard under Title III to achieve such website accessibility.
A few exceptions aside, courts are siding in favor of plaintiffs, despite the fact that many are split on whether all commercial websites are subject to the ADA or just websites associated with brick-and-mortar businesses must be ADA-compliant.
To determine your website’s compliance, run an accessibility scan of the webpages using a free online tool found at www.wave.webaim.org. The report will show areas of your site that may not be accessible and recommend a solution.
Contact your website developer with questions about how you can ensure your online presence meets accessibility requirements.