Website Accessibility Lawsuits Rising

Under Titles II and III of the ADA, most organizations are legally required to provide accessible digital resources. The law does not permit monetary damages for individual plaintiffs, but some state laws allow for monetary damages under certain circumstances. Additionally, many organizations reach settlements with plaintiffs rather than proceeding through costly federal litigation.


One report found that U.S. businesses received 265,000 website accessibility letters in 2020 alone, and the number of accessibility lawsuits has grown over the last decade.

Many websites have significant accessibility issues that can affect the experiences of

people with disabilities.


The ADA does not contain technical standards for websites or other digital content. However, the Justice Department has indicated that Level AA conformance with the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) may satisfy ADA compliance requirements. According to Accessibility.com, about fifty-four percent of ADA demand letters cite specific failures with WCAG criteria.


The following recommendations can resolve issues commonly cited in ADA lawsuits and demand letters:

- No captions on videos, which may prevent people with hearing disabilities from

understanding multimedia.

- Poor keyboard accessibility, which affects people who do not use a mouse.

- Using color alone to convey information, which may make content confusing for

people with low vision or color vision deficiencies.

- Low-contrast text, which may prevent people with vision disabilities from reading

content.

- Missing alt text for images, which affects people who use screen readers (software

that converts text to audio) and people who browse with images disabled.


Overall, good accessible web design simply means good web design. When websites have barriers that prevent users from engaging with content, those barriers need to be rectified. WCAG provides a simple framework for finding and remediating serious issues that affect user experience.

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