ADA Compliant Websites
Businesses across the country are risking legal action because their websites aren’t ADA compliant. FYWN can fix your site and help you avoid that dreaded demand letter.
The ADA Now Regulates Your Website
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law passed in 1990 that stipulates areas of public accommodation must be as wholly accessible (without hindrance) to persons with a disability as they are to people with no disability.
When the ADA was passed, it applied to physical locations since the Internet was yet to take hold. ADA regulations brought us wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, closed captioning and other improvements that benefited the disabled.
As websites (and the Internet) evolved, they became more and more a point of access to all types of businesses. As people increasingly began to utilize online convenience for goods and services, it became inevitable that these sites would eventually become classified as places of public accommodation, subject to the same ADA regulations.
The best way to make your website ADA compliant (accessible) is to build it according to a list of requirements known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
A person with a disability has always found it challenging to get anywhere, so having a website to use for a purchase or other purpose and not having to leave their home was revolutionary. The problem was, most websites were not built to work for disabled persons, making them inaccessible. In short, they were not compliant with ADA regulations, and perceived as discriminatory.
For the disabled, the frustrating experience of trying to use inaccessible websites only became more acute over time. To draw attention to their plight, legal action seemed like a good option – although the thought of resorting to such means may have originated with certain law firms.
Lawsuits against businesses for ADA non-compliant websites began in the early part of the last decade. However, they remained under the radar at first. A few years later, the issue gained prominence when one high profile case against Winn-Dixie Supermarkets became national news.
The Winn-Dixie case was believed to be the first ADA lawsuit to go to trial, and opened the door to many similar cases going forward. The case also led directly to how subsequent ADA compliance lawsuits were defined and interpreted.
An ADA Compliance Lawsuit Will Impact Your Business
Now that ADA lawsuits have become more common (and accepted by the legal system), the chance of your business being called out increases by the day. Granted, although the risk of your business being sued is still relatively low, the cost of such a suit is most definitely high – and could quite possibly drive you out of business.
If your business is sued because your website is inaccessible, you will receive no warning or grace period. In most cases, a business owner has no idea their website is in violation until they see the demand letter. If you receive one, you will have no choice but to fight or settle. If you fight, you most likely will lose – unless you have deep pockets. For most businesses, settling is the best (and only) option.
Current average costs of an ADA compliance settlement run anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000 or more, and continue to rise. This financial hit is not the end of the issue, however. You will still need to pay to get your website remediated in order to meet ADA compliance, which can cost thousands of dollars more.
What’s even more distressing is that not getting your website in compliance can lead to you being sued again. And again.
Want more bad news? The ADA law falls under the concept of strict liability, so claiming ignorance won’t save you. And last, you own the website, therefore your web provider is not liable, you are.
It bears repeating that the risk you’re taking by ignoring ADA regulations and having your website be inaccessible is relatively low, but that risk is growing every day.
A few years ago, the vast majority of businesses being sued had brick and mortar counterparts, and their websites were considered an extension of their business, thus fair game. But that changed in 2017 when Blue Apron, an online-only retailer, was sued. Now, more and more web-only businesses are being targeted.
Maybe you think your business is small and won’t be noticed, but again that is not the case. In fact, more than 15% of current lawsuits are against small business, and that number is growing – most likely because they may be less inclined to fight, and quickly settle.
But there is a solution! We at FYWN are experts in creating and remediating websites so you never see that dreaded demand letter. We know how to audit your website for ADA compliance, using the same tools certain law firms use to find violations. The difference is, we’ll alert you to them and fix them, not sue you for something that isn’t your fault.
Remediating (or even rebuilding) your website will cost far less than the alternative could potentially cost you. The difference may be your business itself.
The first step to getting your website ADA compliant is to schedule a FREE website ADA audit. We’ll audit your site and send you a report, we’ll even go over it with you if you like. Then, the next step is up to you.