In 2018, almost 2,300 ADA lawsuits were filed against businesses across the US; most of those cases were targeting businesses with websites that were found to be not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Who’s At Risk?
The threat of a lawsuit may seem like a scare tactic, but it’s a reality thousands of businesses face. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that companies ensure that the same services that are available to non-disabled people are also accessible to people with disabilities, and that extends to businesses’ websites.
If your website hasn’t been specifically scanned and developed with ADA compliance in mind, a lawyer could be drafting a complaint against you right now. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or Magento; all web platforms are at risk.
Many small and medium business owners might think that they can fly under the radar, but we’ve seen eCommerce businesses with as low as $1m/year in revenue be forced to settle with plaintiffs for 6-figure amounts. The lawyers for these plaintiffs are targeting ecommerce websites that rank high in Google search results because they assume they have deep pockets or insurance that they have insurance that will result in an easy settlement. So the more successful you are, the more you’re at risk.
What can you do to prevent these kinds of lawsuits?
The best defense is a good offense. Even if your website isn’t perfectly compliant, the closer you get to full compliance, the less you’re at risk that a lawyer will think it’s worth it to pursue a case against you because right now, they’re looking for easy targets.
- Scan – To find out whether your website is compliant, you’ll need to utilize a WGAC tool to scan your entire website for potential compliance issues. Once you’ve scanned your site and found the issues, you’ll need to fix them.
- Fix – When you have an eCommerce site with a lot of products and categories your scan might return thousands of pages with issues, but fortunately, if you have a good eCommerce platform and development partner to work with, some of those changes will only need to be made in specific templates and will apply across the entire site. So a little work goes a long way. You should work with your development partner to fix all the issues and then re-scan the site. Once you’ve determined you’ve fixed all the potential issues, you’re in a much less risky position.
- Document – Once you’ve begun the process of scanning and fixing your website to make sure it’s in compliance, it’s essential to post a statement on your website. A good example is https://www.tcby.com/our-commitment-accessibility, and they have a link in the footer titled Accessibility”.
- Maintain – In addition to the initial scan, you’ll want to have your site regularly scanned to ensure that future changes don’t affect your compliance.
If you’re in need of a development partner to assist with ADA Compliance or you’d like to get a free initial assessment of your site, contact us at [email protected] or fill out the form below.
Also published on Medium.