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Feature image With 11,000 Lawsuits Filed, Is Your Site an Accident Waiting to Happen?

Many of us navigate websites almost automatically. While many internet users take swiping, scrolling, and shopping online for granted, others find the majority of websites almost impossible to use. For example, most websites are not built for screen readers that are utilized by people who are blind or visually impaired. That’s a huge issue, particularly as more companies base all of their services around websites.

Accessibility-Related Lawsuits Have Reached a New Record High

Any website is at risk of an accessibility-related lawsuit. Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike can be surprised with a lawsuit for not being fully accessible to people with disabilities. The ADA prohibits discrimination, and it affects many aspects of our lives including online business accessibility.

According to a recent study[1], website accessibility lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are continuing to increase. The study notes that plaintiffs filed more than 11,000 ADA lawsuits in federal court in 2019. This is the highest number since 2013 when there were only 2,722 such lawsuits filed. According to UsableNet’s 2020 Full Year Report[2], there are almost ten ADA lawsuits related to website inaccessibility filed per day, a 23% increase from 2019. Burger King, Fox News, and Blue Apron, to name just a few, have been hit with lawsuits regarding accessibility violations on their websites.

As more and more small and large businesses alike are facing lawsuits, there is a higher urgency to make sure websites are compliant. The fastest way to determine compliance is to use digital scanning and testing tools. There are several good options out there, one of which is the UserWay’s Inspector tool. The inspector will immediately tell you how many violations you have on your website and what is required to fix those violations.

Always Consider Accessibility

While some new site owners design their website from scratch with accessibility in mind, many others do not necessarily take accessibility into account. But the increasing number of accessibility-related lawsuits has become a catalyst for innovation and for putting website accessibility under the spotlight. We urge business owners to make their websites accessible to all, not just to avoid litigation, but primarily to be inclusive and user-focused.

What Is the Law?

If you do some research on ADA compliance for websites, you will probably find 3 main terms: Section 508, ADA, and WCAG. Below is a quick summary of each.

Section 508

Section 508 is a federal law that requires government agencies to ensure their IT is accessible for people with disabilities. Many states have adopted this into legislation, while also including businesses that receive federal and state funding as well as schools and universities.

ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA affects federal agencies and private businesses alike, in the following categories: sales or rental businesses, service establishments, lodging, recreation, education, social services, public gatherings, public transportation, public display, businesses serving food or drink, entertainment, or exhibition.

WCAG

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG is a somewhat complicated set of guidelines for making websites accessible to all. WCAG is not a law, but sets the standard for Section 508 and also for the prosecution of ADA lawsuits.

Make Your Website Compliant

Making your website compliant may look too complicated. The best way to reach compliance is with a hybrid approach that combines manual intervention with AI-Powered solutions. While some consultants might warn you about “overlays,” that is not to say those ADA compliance tools do not work. This negativity tends to come from the fact that many businesses have used various less sophisticated overlays on their websites, some of which could have detracted from the user experience, which might violate the ADA. This is the main reason we advise you to consider the UserWay’s AI-Powered Accessibility Widget, the industry leading automated accessibility solution. You need an accessibility solution that won’t complicate the user experience and will pair well with human intervention.

Use Scans to Find Violations

The UserWay Scanning tool runs more tests than any other accessibility service available today. Its underlying rule engine is continuously updated to reflect the latest WCAG requirements and helps ensure new violations are flagged as soon as they occur on your site.

Working with both UserWay’s scanner and the inspector can give you an idea of where you stand. Then you can compare the before and after results once violations are resolved to get a sense of your website’s transformation using the AI-Powered tool.

Accessibility 24/7

Looking ahead, it is crucial for business owners, large or small, to take accessibility into account. Incorporating accessibility into your website will prevent a costly accident down the road. But more importantly, it will pave the way for those who might otherwise be lost attempting to access your site.

Sources:

[1] https://www.adatitleiii.com/2020/02/2019-was-another-record-breaking-year-for-federal-ada-title-iii-lawsuits/

[2] https://info.usablenet.com/2020-report-on-digital-accessibility-lawsuits