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ADA

ADA

Overview

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 expensive litigation.

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 by 177%.[1]

The solution is for the U.S. Department of Justice to adopt clear technical standards for website accessibility, that incorporate following:

  • 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” communication.
  • 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 above.
  • 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.


[1] Seyfarth, Number Of Federal Website Accessibility Lawsuits Nearly Triple, Exceeding 2250 In 2018, January 31, 2019; https://www.adatitleiii.com/2019/01/number-of-federal-website-accessibility-lawsuits-nearly-triple-exceeding-2250-in-2018/

OP Ed

Businesses Struggle to Comply With Unclear ADA Website Requirements

OC Register - December 7, 2019

With a number of new landmark laws going into effect January 1, California’s businesses face heavier burdens than ever before. Businesses, both small and large, are struggling to comply with policies such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and Assembly Bill 5, the codification of the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision.

Yet another issue looming large for business owners is a resurgence of shakedown lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits – this time over website violations.

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