Last year saw a significant rise in the number of lawsuits filed under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against people with disabilities—whether in physical stores or their online websites. Many of the world’s largest companies have undergone litigation and been required to make their websites more accessible.
In 2021, more than 2,800 lawsuits were filed in federal court about the accessibility of websites, a 14 percent increase from those filed in 2020. Though 2022’s numbers haven’t been solidified yet, it has been approximated that about 100 ADA-based website accessibility lawsuits were filed per week. It is predicted that the final number will be more than 4,400 lawsuits in 2022 alone—which would be a 75 percent increase in the last two years.
Why this major rise in website accessibility lawsuits? This significant increase has been the result of growing awareness of the importance of web accessibility. More and more people are becoming aware of both the social responsibility and the legal necessity of website accessibility and equal access for disabled individuals—especially as more education, employment, entertainment, business activities, and communications move primarily online.
What Happens if Your Website Isn’t ADA Compliant?
There is no defense for inaccessibility.
In most cases of noncompliance, it is completely unintentional. Even if website owners are unaware of ADA Compliance standards, they will still be held completely liable. Every website owner is solely responsible for developing a website that offers “reasonable accessibility,” regardless of who designs the website.
As a result, failure to meet ADA Compliance can result in lawsuits, legal fees, hefty fines, potential settlements, public relations problems, and damage to your brand reputation. First-time violations can result in fines ranging from $55,000-$75,000 and then a $150,000 fine for every repeat violation. In addition to these fines, citizens can file lawsuits against your business or organization for being unable to access it, which could result in a large settlement.
If your website is not ADA Compliant, you can end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and lawsuits. How can you protect your business now and prevent legal action in the future?
Becoming ADA Compliant Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult or Expensive
By making a good-faith effort to achieve reasonable accessibility for people with disabilities, businesses can avoid potential fines, lawsuits, and losing valued customers. The goal here is to deflect future claims, prevent fines, and mitigate legal risk while also providing equal access, inclusive accommodations, and user-friendly solutions. Additionally, ADA-compliant websites also expand audience reach, enrich SEO efforts, improve brand reputation, enhance overall user experiences, and offer businesses tax benefits.
But what does an ADA-complaint website look like exactly? Well, there are no clear regulations. However, websites must make an effort to offer “reasonable accessibility” to people with disabilities. Unlike ADA Compliance, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) isn’t a legal requirement. However, it provides helpful recommendations for businesses looking to improve their digital accessibility. WCAG focuses on assisting individuals with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments. Some digital accommodations include: providing text alternative for images, providing transcript or captions for audio and video content, allowing keyboard navigation and operation, and more. This may sound overwhelming and complicated, but there is an easy solution.
The Solution? An AI-Powered Accessibility Widget
Sun Sign Designs offers a full suite of digital accessibility solutions to help your website meet ADA Compliance. There’s no need to overhaul your website and rewrite code—we will seamlessly integrate our AI-powered accessibility widget onto your website. We offer a secure and easy compliance solution that doesn’t require reworking your entire site.