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Nov 22 2020
Nov 22

As ADA Accessibility standards adjust to the digital age, websites and all digital properties need to adhere to the latest accessibility compliance standards. 

Legal action in Texas pertaining to ADA web accessibility non compliance has been on a particularly sharp trajectory. In 2019, Texas saw 239 ADA Title III lawsuits, up from 196 in 2018. This represents a 21.9 percent increase in Texas, and many other states have seen similar or even greater increases in their case volume.

ADA Title III lawsuit growthSource: Seyfarth

For organizations that have not yet started to pay attention to ADA web accessibility compliance, now is the time to do so. Taking interest in the newest developments in ADA law, ensuring that your business is kept up-to-date in the sphere of accessibility is not just good business for any organization that wishes to avoid legal action. It's the right thing to do.

In addition, providing web-accessible content to the end user of your site, accessibility can increase the value of your website and provide additional traffic from users that would otherwise not be able to take advantage of the services or products provided by your business.

Basis for ADA Title III Lawsuits

What is an ADA Title III lawsuit? According to ADA.gov, “Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors' offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation — as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards.”

In other words, ADA Title III lawsuits consider the accommodations in place are applicable when these accommodations do not meet acceptable standards. While at first glance this appears to only apply to the physical world, ADA Title III has been likewise applied to websites and all digital properties websites as equally applicable places where accessibility concerns are vital to consider. The easiest way to do this is through making your website comply with current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

WCAG is a series of rules published by the Web Accessibility Initiative, part of the W3C — the primary organization behind international standards for the internet. WCAG 2.1 is the current release of these standards, and complying to them is essential to protecting your organization from lawsuits surrounding ADA Title III violations.

 

WCAG Compliance Imperative

The recent upsurge in lawsuits filed in Texas proves that now, more than ever, it is vital to have a website that follows best practices and compliance standards for for web accessibility. The importance of ADA Title III undisputed in the current environment. When comparing Texas’ 239 lawsuits to California’s much larger number of 4,794,  activity in Texas might not seem that significant. What's important to note, however, is rate of  increase within Texas.

Increase in ADA title III lawsuits 2018 to 2019“These numbers include Title III lawsuits filed on all grounds — physical facilities, websites and mobile applications, service animals, sign language interpreters, and more.” Seyfarth

Similarly, the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois have experienced a particularly steep rise in the number of ADA Title III lawsuits filed between in 2019 over 2018.

While the cases inspected by this study were covering all instances of ADA Title III law, as opposed to web only suits, it is nonetheless important to keep in mind that this upswing is having an impact on all facets of business in an increasingly electronic world, as organizations conduct more and more business online. One particularly visible example of this is obvious in the case of Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC. Legal issues with a company website can carry heavy penalties and the best way to ensure this does not happen is through an a11y-compliant website that follows modern web standards for accessibility. The anticipated increase in ADA Title III cases over the course of the coming year makes it even more important to pay attention to the legal sphere when it comes to web accessibility.

Now more than ever, organizations are being called to action to create websites that are accessible to people of all abilities. 

Interested in an accessibility audit of your site and learning more how to achieve WCAG Compliance? Contact us today. 

Nov 10 2020
Nov 10

ADA Title III lawsuits are on the rise, but nowhere was the 2018 to 2019 increase more extreme than in the state of Illinois, where the number of federal lawsuits more than doubled from 70 in 2018 to 190 in 2019. This 171 percent increase highlights the importance of ADA web accessibility compliance. 

States with increases in ADA Title III lawsuitsPercent increase in Title III lawsuits filed on all grounds — physical facilities, websites and mobile applications, service animals, sign language interpreters, and more. Source: Seyfarth

Other states including Georgia and Pennsylvania have also seen significant increases in the number of federal lawsuits filed. While no other state experienced the percent increase seen in Illinois, the growth trends are nationwide. As such, it is very important to pay attention to developments in ADA law, and to ensure that your organization is kept up-to-date on web accessibility requirements.

What's Covered by ADA Title III

How does an organization mitigate against an ADA Title III lawsuit? According to ADA.gov, "Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations, (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors' offices), requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation.  Commercial facilities that include factories, warehouses, and office buildings are also covered by Title III, and required to comply with the ADA Standards.”

ADA Title III lawsuits are sparked when there is a claim that accessibility standards are not not being met.  While at first glance this appears to only apply to physical locations, ADA Title III accessibility standards are applicable to organizations' websites, just as accessibility of physical locations is required.  

WCAG Compliance

Web accessibility is achieved through compliance with current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is a series of rules published by the Web Accessibility Initiative, part of W3C, which is the primary organization behind international standards for the internet. WCAG 2.1 is the current release of accessibility standards, and compliance with WCAG 2.1 is the key to avoiding  ADA Title III violations.

States with highest increases in ADA title III lawsuitsSource: Seyfarth

As the above chart points out, other states experienced a far higher rate of ADA Title III accessibility lawsuits in 2019 than Illinois. When comparing Illinois’ 190 lawsuits to California’s much larger number of 4,794, the most critical factor is the sharp rate of increase, and the expectation that this trajectory will continue in this direction.

It's also important to point out that accessibility compliance enhances the value of a website and draws more visitors to a site.  

Spike in ADA Title III Lawsuits

The states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas have a proportionally larger number of cases from 2019 when compared to 2018, and it can be anticipated that these percentages will continue to hold true for the next year, or perhaps grow even larger. While the cases inspected by this study were covering all instances of ADA Title III law, vs. web accessibility in particular, it is important to keep in mind that this upswing will impact all facets of business in an increasingly electronic world, as businesses continue to move more services to online spaces. One particularly visible example is the recent case of Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC.

The anticipated increase in ADA Title III lawsuits highlights the importance of adhering to ADA web accessibility guidelines and ensuring that a site remains in compliance. Never before has it been more important to ensure that websites adhere to WCAG standards.

Interested in an accessibility audit of your site and learning more how to achieve WCAG Compliance? Contact us today. 


 

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