For more than six years the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had the topic of web accessibility regulations on the books for discussion with projections of having those rules in place by 2018. In late December 2017, all proposals regarding web accessibility regulations came to a halt. The DOJ officially withdrew its plan to provide the American people with any federal guidance. Unfortunately, this lack of direction has caused issues for both disabled users, who just want equal access to information, as well as business owners, who want to follow the full spectrum of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).
As the internet has continued to grow and evolve, laws concerning web accessibility have turned the Internet into a virtual Wild West. The number of lawsuits alleging violations of the ADA is steadily and rapidly increasing (up 14% in the last year) and shows no signs of decline.
Despite this upswing in the number of ADA web lawsuits, many business owners have begun to believe the myth that the lack of government regulations is beneficial. The myth goes, that because no official rules exist, this means there is no urgency for a website to become compliant. This belief could not be farther from the truth.
Attorney David Klein of Klein, Moynihan, and Turco, who has helped numerous business owners with web accessibility lawsuits states, “Those that choose to ignore ADA website accessibility issues because of the regulatory vacuum left by the Department of Justice do so at their peril. Thousands of ADA lawsuits (many are class actions) have been filed against companies across the country in the past couple of years, in most instances either because the defendants were not aware that website accessibility was an issue or because they chose to ignore the risks. The fact that the DOJ has not issued regulations is almost irrelevant at this juncture – law is being made through legal decisions and settlements on both a state and federal level throughout the country on a daily basis. The best advice is to get compliant now. As I tell my clients, it will be a lot less expensive for me to help you make your website accessible as opposed to paying me to defend you if you do not.”
In short, if businesses fail to comply with web accessibility standards then they should not be surprised to find themselves on the receiving end of litigation. Website accessibility is a civil right, regardless of whether there are any federal ADA regulations.
If your business believes there is nothing to be worried about, listen to CommonAccess client, Hector Sarmiento, who was surprised with a web accessibility lawsuit:
“This whole thing has been very frustrating because our website is a tool that is used to help our business and bring in customers. The lawsuit that we received because of our website completely caught me off guard. It would have been great in my case if I had spoken to CommonAccess before I got sued to give me insight and education about this whole thing. Knowing about the issues with our website and fixing them would have saved me lots of time and upwards of $10,000 in settlement and lawyers’ fees.”
If you are unsure if your website is accessible, please contact us.