Featured image by Freepik User
As a business owner, there are many steps you must take to protect your organization. Taking out insurance, filing taxes correctly, securing online data, and carrying out competitor analysis are ways that you can safeguard your company against unexpected and potentially harmful scenarios. However, one often overlooked topic is the importance of web accessibility and the rising number of lawsuits that businesses are facing.
RELATED ARTICLE: MAKE YOUR WEBSITE ADA COMPLIANT WITH ACCESSIBE
2021 was a record year for digital lawsuits, with more than 11,400 filed across the twelve months. Aside from 2020, which saw a small decrease (likely due to the pandemic), web accessibility lawsuits are rising exponentially year-on-year. This continued rise is mostly due to increased awareness over social justice issues. This is particularly true regarding matters surrounding inequality and inclusion.
In addition, as more plaintiff law firms find success in the courts, it only sets a further precedent for victims to come out and launch their own proceedings.
Why Businesses Should Be Concerned About Web Accessibility
So, why should you care about this? Well, other than the clear moral and legal obligations that companies have toward serving their disabled customers, your business could face severe financial consequences as a result of non-compliance.
According to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, the average cost of a digital accessibility lawsuit is somewhere in the ballpark of $25,000. This is a cost that most SMBs would not be able to survive. Moreover, when you consider that 98% of the world’s top one million websites have clear web accessibility failures, there’s a strong chance that you do, too. This means that you are likely already running the risk of facing a lawsuit.
How Courts Determine Web Accessibility
The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) is the most important law regarding accessibility and civil rights for people with disabilities. In short, the ADA prohibits discrimination against anyone based on ability or disability. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that we finally began to see the application of these laws to the online world. Since then, ADA web accessibility has become a hot topic in the legal world. Moreover, it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
For a long time, the DOJ declined to adopt any official legal standard for the ADA. However, it frequently referenced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) in the courtrooms in order to determine web accessibility failures. But in March 2022, the Justice Department finally issued guidance on the topic of web accessibility under the ADA.
accessiBe’s Litigation Support Package
If you are actively preparing for a web accessibility lawsuit, accessiBe’s Litigation Support Package can help. The market leader in digital accessibility solutions, accessiBe offers its clients support as they face proceedings. Moreover, it does so from the moment they receive the case until a judgement/settlement is reached. Let’s take a look at some of the package’s core features.
Ongoing Support Throughout Your Web Accessibility Case
Since accessiBe is one of the leading web accessibility experts, having them on hand to answer questions is a valuable asset when facing litigation proceedings. Throughout the lawsuit, the accessiBe team will get to know the intricacies of your case. They will be ready to answer questions and steer you in the right direction.
Documentation to Support Your Case
One of the first things a plaintiff law firm will do in a web accessibility lawsuit is provide evidence of instances where your website has failed WCAG 2.1 guidelines. They will then use this evidence to demonstrate how you have broken the law through ADA violations.
In order to protect against this, accessiBe will conduct a line-by-line assessment of your website and its code, scanning for any accessibility issues. When they find issues, the team will provide a full response to each issue in the form of written documentation. You can submit as part of your defense.
accessiBe will also run two independent third-party audits. Auditors will run through your website’s code with a fine-tooth comb. This will highlight any and all present issues with web accessibility. In turn, this information will enable you to remedy all accessibility concerts before you begin your court case. In doing so, you will demonstrate to the court that you are committed to your accessibility practices.
RELATED ARTICLE: NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES OPENED BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
How to Determine If Your Company Is at Risk
If you operate a business with any online component, including websites and apps, you are at risk of facing a web accessibility lawsuit.
Nonetheless, some industries are more at risk than others. For example, eCommerce websites tend to be one of the most frequently targeted due to the amount of content they post. In addition, most online stores are heavy on the visual content side. This makes them an easy target if they do not have the appropriate accessibility features in place, such as alt text and closed captions.
However, no industry is safe from facing a web accessibility lawsuit. So make sure you take the time to bring your website up to speed.
Furthermore, the size and scope of your business does not exempt you from facing proceedings, either. Many business owners think they are “too small” to be targeted, but that is simply not the case.
In fact, over the past few years, the vast majority of lawsuits have been targeted at SMBs, since they are less likely to have stringent accessibility programs in place. Moreover, these companies cannot defend themselves in the courts as effectively as larger corporations because most of them have smaller budgets. This makes them an easier target for plaintiff law firms in web accessibility lawsuits.
RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO DEVELOP A WEBSITE: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE