Rob Thorpe, a partner at Barclay Damon LLP, shared a staggering development in the world of Website Content Accessibility lawsuits where he uses the term, “serial plaintiffs. These are people that file many federal discrimination lawsuits in New York State. When I say many, Thorpe refers to 6 people in his article who collectively have filed 435 lawsuits.

In my opinion, this is often an abuse of the legal system. Instead of contacting a business and asking them to improve their content accessibility, they look for websites that are not compliant and simply file suit. Once a suit is filed, a business has to decide whether to go up against an experienced lawyer or settle out of court.

Here is some advice, hire a web design company with experience in website design using appropriate Website Content Accessibility Guidelines. Here are four simple questions you should ask to make sure you will get a legally compliant website:

  • Do you have tools to do auditing and remediation for Website Content Accessibility Compliance?
  • Do you do Foundational Optimization?
  • Can you show me websites that you have design to at minimum WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard?
  • Does your website meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA? If so, please show me how it meets the standard.

It is quite easy to tell if the design of a website used ADA standards. Most websites that are not compliant do not have an accessibility statement. That is an obvious non-compliance. Here are seven considerations when determining if a site is compliant that are not so obvious:

  1. No Accessibility Statement
  2. No Meta Information
  3. No Skip Tag
  4. No form labels
  5. Color contrast not 4.5:1
  6. If you use a closed source online store, like WIX, Squarespace, Shopify, achieving Accessibility Standard compliance is difficult. There is often code-level remediation that cannot be done in these systems. It also depends on the template being used for the store within these systems.
  7. The use of Website Accessibility tools does not mean that you are compliant to content accessibility standards. These tools that are website ad-ons provide a way to help with color contrast, minimize motion and provide other functions that may already provide by your browser. There are many issues that must be fixed via code remediation. We also have found that on occasion, the format changes done by these tools affect other functions related to formatting and meta information.

If you are facing an issue, feel free to give us a call and we will provide some information to help you. However, I would heed Mr. Thorpe’s advice and get your website design to meet the W3C WCA Guidelines.

Source: ADA Accessibility Lawsuits: New “Tester” Plaintiffs—Bryan Velazquez, Daniel Rodriguez, Marina Iskhakova, Elbert Dawkins, Marta Hanyzkiewicz, and Warren Zinnamon—Targeting Businesses in Recent Flurry of Federal Lawsuits | Barclay Damon