Every day, courtroom dockets are filled with cases. Unfortunately, some of these are frivolous and/or preventable. As of 2019, it almost seems like a trend for consumers to find something that makes them want to take legal action, and ADA compliance lawsuits have become extremely common.
In case you were unaware, businesses who have websites must do everything in their power to make this digital space accessible for all. This means that those with disabilities should not have any more difficulties consuming content on your site than an able-bodied individual. Whether this is familiar to you or not, you have to take steps to make changes right away, or else you may find yourself on the wrong side of a legal battle.
For those who have already been served papers, you have to step things up and make changes as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk having these problems continue in the future. If you are interested in staying out of legal hot water and you need some insight on ADA compliance, read on.
The first thing you should be aware of is that the law does not discriminate when it comes to cracking down on businesses that are not ADA compliant. There are many large corporations that have been sued because they failed to follow regulations. For instance, H&R Block was sued for failing to make its website and mobile app accessible for people with disabilities.
The main problem that smaller businesses face is being able to successfully rebound after being involved in a lawsuit of this magnitude. While industry giants like Netflix and Amazon can easily pay fines and continue on with business as usual, this is not always possible for smaller companies. In short, you have to focus on doing everything possible to avoid having issues; the future and survival of your business may depend on it.
Common Mistakes That Should Be Avoided
One thing to note is that countless websites have ADA compliance failures and have yet to be forced into litigation. For this reason, many have the same common mistakes present. Here are some of the errors that you should avoid if your goal is to stay out of court.
Images Without Alt Attributes
Those who choose to include images on their pages need to add alt attributes so people who are visually impaired can consume the content. In addition, if there is text included in an image, this needs to be present in the attribute as well. As simple as this may seem, nearly half of businesses do not follow this rule.
Most people loathe popups, but they have become so common that they are considered a part of digital life. With that being said, having them on your site without giving those with disabilities methods of easily getting rid of them is a huge issue. If someone is unable to access your entire site because there is a popup present that cannot be closed, then this threatens the integrity of the website as a whole. Basically, it will make you fully non-compliant.
For someone who can see without any issues, figuring out where links are located is not difficult at all. This is not true for those who have visual impairments. When you are adding links to text it is imperative that you use contrasting colors and the ones selected are very noticeable. Not only should you make it simple for users with readers to browse without issue, but those who are color-blind, legally blind and otherwise impaired should have easy access as well.
Every document that you place on your site needs to be offered in basic text format. If you decide to add a PDF as well, you are perfectly within your rights, but an HTML or other text-based option needs to be available as well. Many companies, especially those in the foodservice industry, offer many coupons, menus and other Web content in PDF form since it is easy for the average user to consume. Unfortunately, trying to appeal to the masses can backfire if you are not taking disabled people into account.
Pizza giant Domino's found this out the hard way when they were sued for not making their menu and ordering system accessible according to ADA standards. That lawsuit is currently in litigation.
What To Do If You Are Sued
Ideally, it would be great to avoid being sued, but that is not always possible. If you find yourself being served with legal papers, the way that you handle it will have a huge bearing on how things turn out. The first thing to do would be to take the lawsuit seriously. Even if you feel like it is frivolous, this is a legally binding document and ignoring it will not make it disappear. You have to confront this issue head-on.
Get a lawyer as soon as you can. Hesitating will only allow the situation to get worse, not better. If you need help finding a lawyer, get in touch with us. Our attorney is in Minneapolis, MN and the firm has people on staff who are familiar with this area of law. We can certainly act as an intermediary when it comes to helping you get the help you need.
Hire a consultant to assist you in making your website compliant. This is something that we can help with as well. Our goal is to help businesses bring their sites up to code and avoid losing money and time being dragged to court continuously for ADA violations. You should work on your accessibility as soon as you are sued since every minute it remains the same is another opportunity for someone to file additional lawsuits.
Staying on the right side of the law is not as difficult as it probably sounds. If you want to create a digital space that is easy for everyone to access and helps you stay within the law, reach out to us now.
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