Important state and federal disability laws are in place to
ensure individuals with disabilities have access to places of
public accommodation. Unfortunately, a cottage industry of
plaintiffs’ attorneys abuse these laws to enrich themselves
rather than advance disability access.
These plaintiffs’ attorneys issue threatening demand letters or
file shakedown lawsuits, primarily aimed at small and vulnerable
businesses. The goal — to extract settlements from businesses
who may have done nothing wrong but can’t afford to go through
A growing trend in ADA shakedown lawsuits is in the area of
website accessibility. Businesses desire to provide access to
their websites to all consumers and to comply with the ADA, but
the absence of clear standards on website accessibility has
resulted in a new wave of litigation. Between 2017 and 2018,
website lawsuits filed in federal court under the ADA increased
The solution is for the U.S. Department of Justice to adopt clear
technical standards for website accessibility, that incorporate
Include unambiguous language establishing the need to have a
clear nexus between the website and the services provided at a
physical business location.
Provide clear definitions for “accessible” and “effective”
Ensure standards are not cost-prohibitive and unduly
burdensome for businesses to implement.
Continue to provide businesses flexibility on how to comply
with regulatory directives.
Provide an indefinite Safe Harbor for those businesses that
have completed website remediation according to WCAG 2.0AA or
Provide a reasonable implementation deadline of at least one
year to 18 months.
Clear and balanced standards that take into consideration the
needs of the website user, as well as the compliance burden on
businesses, will promote businesses’ compliance with the ADA and
expand website accessibility.