The Risk of Not Having an ADA Compliant Website

The Risk of Not Having an ADA Compliant Website

In 2020, websites are more than just digital presences for businesses and individuals. They are an actual extension of a business and for many, it is where most of the business takes place. 

The fact that it is active 24/7 and accessible from all over the world makes a website one of the best channels for communication. Also, this is why web accessibility has become a priority for many businesses that are worried about the liability risk of websites which are not ADA compliant.

What Is ADA Compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a standard which tells us that all public spaces should be accessible to people with disabilities, including digital spaces and elements accessible via the Internet. In other words, every website needs to be optimized so that people with disabilities can be able to view it.

So, having an ADA compliant website means playing by the rules. If your website is not ADA compliant, we can only tell that there are charges by courts — even though it is still unclear about what are the actual risks and what are the actual costs.

Of course, the Internet is now a big arena and making every website ADA compliant is not exactly realistic. However, if you are a digital publisher or a small business owner, you should definitely look into it with your website and be aware of the ADA and all the risks of not complying with the law.

ADA Compliance and Appearing in Federal Court

As we noted above, the risks associated with not having an ADA compliant website start with the potential lawsuit from a plaintiff with a disability that claims they do not have adequate access to the content. This can be a potential customer with a disability who cannot access the website, read, educate themselves or purchase goods and services of an eCommerce website.

Most of the ADA website compliance lawsuits which have been active so far have fallen into some of these categories. As The New York Times recently reported, even eight ADA website compliance lawsuits were filed against universities across the state (possibly by disabled students who could not access information or take action) in a period of just two weeks.

The Number of Lawsuits Keeps on Rising

According to reports by The Seyfarth ADA News & Insights which is a legal blog tracking the rise of ADA website compliance lawsuits, more than 751 lawsuits have been filed against website owners since the start of 2015. Even 432 of these suits have been filed in the first half of 2017 alone, which signals that there is an alarming trend throwing the world into a frenzy.

From website owners to major corporations and digital publishers, there are many people who are uncertain of whether they are legally obligated to make their accessible to disabled people.

Right now, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the main legal standard – run by the World Wide Web Consortium — when determining if a website is adequately accessible to people with disabilities.

The main reason for this trend and all the confusion around it is the lack of legal consensus as to which exact websites fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and ADA. From the details online, we can see that websites tend to fall under this category if they are “a place of public accommodation” which means an extension of a physical location such as a brick and mortar store, a university etc. Yet, different circuit courts may have different interpretations of this, which is why everyone needs to be serious about ADA compliance.

While a lot of the ADA compliance cases are handled privately and behind closed doors, it is still uncertain which cases will hold up against the court. Website owners need to forgo ADA compliance and be prepared.

So, Do You Need to Rebuild Your Website with ADA in Mind?

Launching a new website or redesigning it for it to comply with the ADA rules is definitely something which carries a big financial burden. The amount depends on the size and scope of content that you plan to showcase online. In general, small websites can cost up to $10,000 while larger ones can easily reach up to $100,000. This is why it is important to build a website which complies with ADA or use a solution that can help you against potential lawsuits.

If you are using WordPress, a nice thing to install is the WP ADA Compliance Check which is a plugin that checks if your website is ADA compliant. And if you are looking for more details and resources on how to make your WordPress website ADA compliant, visit this link or contact us today!

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Beth

Beth

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