Own a Website? You May be Sued! Best Practices to Avoid ADA Claims

We continue to see an increase in the number of lawsuits threatened, and ultimately filed, against companies of varying sizes and structures for violations of the new requirements for websites under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Weinberg Gonser has recommended the use of accessibility widgets and other preventative tools to lessen the likelihood of a claim with respect to your website, but, unfortunately, sensing a new opportunity for generous fees, the plaintiffs’ bar continues to aggressively seek out and leverage loopholes and gray areas in the laws to even make claims against those website owners that have tried to comply with the ADA requirements.

The following are suggested best practices for reducing the chances of an ADA Website Compliance lawsuit:

  • Manually audit and remediate (fix) your website in accordance with WCAG 2.0 AA (or, even better, 2.1 AA)
    • WCAG guidelines found here – https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
    • You will likely need to work with your website designer/developer
    • For true remediation, there must be edits made within the content and at the code level of the website.
  • Have your website user tested by persons with disabilities
    • If you are able to evidence that you have had users with disabilities actually try to navigate your website, you can use this to show your commitment to ADA compliance and ward off potential lawsuits
  • Get your WAVE checker errors to zero or very low
    • Go to https://wave.webaim.org and enter your website URL. The red errors should be reduced to zero as soon as possible
    • Website checkers only detect around 30% of errors, but this is likely the first place that plaintiff lawyers will go to see if they can bring a lawsuit against you. If you show zero or close to zero errors, they will likely move on to another company that is an easier target.
  • Create a robust, custom web accessibility statement
    • Updating or creating an Accessibility Statement for your website listing the various remediation efforts your company takes is important — It serves as both a preventative measure and something we can point to in the case that you have a lawsuit filed against you.

While the bulk of compliance lies with your web development team, Weinberg Gonser is here to help clients audit and walk through compliance-related issues. For example, there are various third-party compliance companies, but not all are created equal; We are here to advise if you decide to go that route. We anticipate the laws will continue to vary with regard to ADA compliance, so don’t hesitate to contact us when you have any questions.

Ryan Adcock is an attorney at the Los Angeles office of Weinberg Gonser LLP. He regularly represents technology and e-commerce clients and specializes in data privacy and technology transactions.