Web Accessibility Lawsuits in 2018

2018 is shaping up to be the biggest year for ADA Section 508 lawsuits to date. We have already had almost 1000 web accessibility lawsuits filed in America this year. That is more web accessibility lawsuits already in 2018 than we had all last year. Don’t be a victim of the new wave of lawsuits!

[When it comes to web accessibility, all companies that have a website are vulnerable to these types of lawsuits.]

Here are a few of the main industries that seem to be being targeted by lawyers:

  • Local Government agencies with websites or have employees that use software
  • Restaurants with a website
  • E-commerce stores
  • Apparel stores with an online presence
  • Telecommunications companies

It is extremely important these days to make sure that your companies web presence fully complies with all of the web accessibility (Section 508) requirements. The lawsuits that have been filed largely lean towards hearing and visually impaired users. This makes sense because those are the 2 largest groups of individuals with disabilities and also those are the most debilitating when it comes to navigating the internet.

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A lot of people in the industry feel like these lawsuits have a lot to do with the lack of clear guidance when it comes to the requirements that business must comply with to be fully compliant. The DOJ has stated in lawsuits and settlements that no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation”

At the same time according to a Forbs article, the Department of Justice who was supposed to release the clarifications in 2016 ADA Title III but then they pushed the release date back to 2018. Now the DOJ has withdrawn proposed rules for accessible websites of public accommodations and state and local governments altogether.

But as you can see in this article from Legal News, the Department of Justice has now withdrawn it promised proposed rules for accessible websites of public accommodations and state and local governments altogether and our guess is as good as yours too when they will release the actual rules. Until the DOJ releases these standards the lawsuits will continue to grow in numbers and in frequency. It is only a matter of time before the smaller local companies start to get letters from lawyers

How the DOJ determines a websites web accessibility compliance.

The DOJ previously used WCAG 2.0 Level AA as their accepted standards to judge the web accessibility of a companies website or software. To see what the exact Level A and Level AA WCAG 2.0 Guidelines and recommendations follow this link to the United States Access Board. So they leave it up to another organization to define exactly what exactly what it takes to be totally compliant.

Now the DOJ uses WCAG 2.1 Level AA as their accepted standards to judge the web accessibility of a companies website or software. So you can see how important it is for the government to stay consistent with recommendations and guidelines that they want us to build our websites or software around.

This is the area that people feel the biggest problem is. It’s the continued delay by the DOJ in releasing the federal accessibility guidelines that we need to be fully compliant. The DOJ wants all companies that have a website or software to be in compliance with the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines(WCAG2.1)  while we wait for the actual accessibility guidelines from the DOJ.

This is where some people are saying that the problems are. They feel that the guidelines themselves are just not clear enough. The accessibility guidelines are a very good foundation but in some cases, they leave situations wide open to interpretation which causes some confusion across the entire industry.


Web Accessibility Lawsuits

The vast majority of the lawsuits are because a companies website is not accessible for a person with some sort of visual impairment. There are some lawsuits filed on behalf of some people with a hearing impairment but most of the lawsuits have been because of a visual disability.

I was surprised to see some of the largest companies in the world on the list of defendants. It makes sense for a lawyer to target a large company with a lot of money but it does not make sense to me how such a large company was so far behind when it comes to web accessibility. The companies being sued are a wide range of companies from very different markets. Some companies are in the food industry like Hershey’s or in the clothing industry like Nike and Converse. One of the largest companies on earth is being sued for not being in compliance with Section 508 standards.

It is just astonishing to see the number of lawsuits in just the first 2 months of 2018 by only 28 different people. I have put together a list of companies that are currently being sued for web accessibility compliance issues.

Here are just some of the lawsuits filed in federal courts in the first 2 months of 2018. [Keep in mind all of these lawsuits were filed by only 28 plaintiffs]




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