The global cost of ignoring e-commerce accessibility


  • Legal Intelligence
  • EAA
  • E-Commerce


  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • Spain

Driving the news:

E-commerce platforms have become ubiquitous, transforming our shopping habits, business transactions, and global interactions. Yet, as digital integration becomes more entrenched, individuals with disabilities increasingly find themselves marginalized by modernization, including on e-commerce platforms. 

A growing body of legal frameworks across the globe are paving the way for a more accessible online world, underscoring the need to ensure that digital spaces are open and equitable. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the urgent need for accessibility in these platforms. The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is set to be fully enforceable by June of 2025. The EAA encompasses a wide range of digital products and services, including e-commerce platforms, and requires them to be accessible to persons with disabilities. As of today, many countries are already moving forward with actions to curb digital barriers.

Key takeaways:

Beyond legal compliance, there are compelling business reasons for e-commerce platforms to prioritize web accessibility. E-commerce sites are likely losing millions in opportunities. According to a March 2024 report from The Women and Equalities Committee, commissioned by the House of Commons of England, there is significant oversight in considering the needs of disabled consumers in the early stages of product and service design. 

This oversight misses out on tapping into their considerable economic contribution, with disabled households in the UK alone boasting an estimated spending power of £274 billion annually. The 2019 Click Away Pound report revealed that 69% of internet users with disabilities, or 4.3 million individuals, abandoned websites due to accessibility issues, highlighting a substantial potential revenue loss for those sites. Furthermore, the report indicated that 83% of disabled users confined their online shopping to websites they had previously verified as accessible. Similarly, a French report from November 2023 revealed that only 36% of e-commerce sites comply with basic web accessibility standards, especially regarding web navigation.

United States:

For the US, the ADA has been a cornerstone for promoting accessibility. While it predates the digital era, the principles of the ADA have been interpreted to apply to digital access. This has led to a surge in ADA lawsuits targeting e-commerce businesses that fail to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities, underscoring the legal risk of non-compliance. These lawsuits target a broad economic spectrum of companies, from small boutiques to the giants of the e-commerce world. These past three months have seen cases brought against e-commerce stalwarts like Etsy, Everlane, and Casper Sleep, in addition to companies that maintain both online and brick-and-mortar facilities like Williams Sonoma, Sherwin-Williams, and Saks Fifth Avenue, in addition to hundreds of other smaller entities that maintain modest online storefronts.


Japan recently amended the Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities to extend obligations to business entities from April 2024. While the act does not explicitly mandate accessible web practices, website accessibility can be considered part of the broader requirement to provide reasonable accommodation. Businesses must take necessary and reasonable action to remove social barriers, improve the structure and equipment of facilities, and provide personnel training. 


In Brazil, despite a lack of comprehensive web accessibility laws, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) opened investigations in July 2020 into e-commerce giants such as iFood, Pizza Hut, and Uber, prompting them to change their platforms and make browsing more accessible to consumers with visual impairments. A new investigation was launched to track changes in the accessibility of applications from five other companies- China in Box, Glambox, Nicephotos (Pixel House), and Phooto. Similarly, fines against Vueling and Iberia, low-cost airlines in Spain, totaled EUR 90,000 and EUR 30,000 for not providing accessible websites. This all demonstrates the proactive role government bodies are taking to enforce accessibility standards not expressly mentioned in the law, extending general accessibility norms to digital services.

Looking forward:

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the need for accessible e-commerce platforms becomes even more critical. Legal requirements across the globe underscore the importance of accessibility, not just as a matter of compliance but as a cornerstone of ethical business practice and ESG. By prioritizing web accessibility, e-commerce businesses can ensure that their platforms are open, usable, and beneficial to all users, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive digital world, and more profitable businesses.

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