Today’s post could save your business tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Read on to learn about the legalities of ADA website compliance, and how to protect yourself from predatory lawyers.
ADA Compliance Website Woes Continue in 2018
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was originally created to ensure that all members of the public had the equal levels of access and protection against discrimination.
Sounds like a commendable initiative, right? So what’s with all the ADA compliance website woes?
Well, there’s a problem–or rather, a loophole that predatory individuals are exploiting to sue businesses like yours. The Department of Justice, which is responsible for regulations under the ADA, has not formally issues requirements that businesses must meet to achieve website compliance.
On Wednesday, September 5th 2018, six Senators wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions with concerns shared by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) regarding ADA ambiguity:
“Right now it is not clear the ADA applies to websites. This leaves businesses and property owners unsure what standards, if any, govern their online services,” the letter reads. “To date, the Department [of Justice] has not issued guidance or regulations to provide clarity, and conflicting court opinions have created even more confusion.”
The letter was signed by Senators Charles Grassley, Michael Rounds, Thom Tillis, Mike Crapo, John Cornyn, and Joni Ernst. And it wasn’t the first letter Sessions received; similar concerns were expressed previously by 103 members of Congress in June, and then again by 19 state attorneys general in July.
Unsurprisingly, these murky legal waters have left the door wide open for a flood of “drive-by lawsuits” being made against business owners whose websites are purportedly inaccessible. Without clear rules or precedent, lawsuits have been handled inconsistently throughout the country, and many businesses were coerced into pricey settlements.
And while most litigation trends follow a bell curve–activity peaks early, then drops off as companies button-up their practices and invest in compliance audits–website lawsuits have been pretty steady over the past few years, according to Angelo Spinola, a shareholder at an employment legal firm Littler Mendelson.
In September of this year, Home Health Care News reported that New York City officials had fined and investigated dozens of NYC homecare agencies for website violations. Since last July, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) alone targeted 42 businesses.
Another report from NY Daily News told the story of a Brooklyn lawyer who filed 411 lawsuits in Manhattan Federal Court targeting a huge array of businesses–casinos, retirement homes, racetracks, breweries, you name it–with ambiguous ADA violations.
“It’s profit-seeking attorneys abusing the legal system and using handicapped people as a front,” says Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Albany-based Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.
Is ADA Compliance Website Testing Available?
Yes–and it might be the only way to protect yourself from “profit-seeking” attorneys while the ADA requirements shape up.
Until ADA regulations are formalized, business owners have turned to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG3) that were created by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
ClickTecs’ ADA compliance website testing checklist includes more than 300 items informed by these guidelines. We spot problems and implement fixes fast to protect you from predatory lawsuits. We also remediate sites that have been flagged as noncompliant. Learn more at https://www.clicktecs.comBack