Although it is not very clear how or even if ADA rules will be applicable to any specific website, it is generally good to err on the side of caution. Several states have adopted their own accessibility laws, and the amount of accessibility-linked lawsuits filed against websites is increasing greatly in recent years.
In fact, ADA website compliance lawsuits are being filed (what feels like) left and right these days. In 2017 alone, there were roughly 814 documented lawsuits against companies for violating Title III of the ADA (Website Accessibility Act) that included various putative damage lawsuits. 2018 and 2019 also witnessed a fair share of lawsuits.
Plaintiffs are becoming more successful in these suits than ever before. Currently, settlements on ADA website compliance often range from $5,000 to $50,000. With hardly any clearly stipulated regulations to follow, it is probably not worth it for any company to gamble that a court will rule in its favor.
If you ignore website accessibility, you are not only failing your civic responsibility, you are likely also missing out on getting new customers. The 2010 census reports that 19% of the US population, roughly 56.7 million people, have some form of disability.
The report titled “Americans with Disabilities: 2010” records that the percentage of people with severe disabilities is on the rise. Without a doubt, people within this group have buying power and brand loyalty, therefore, it is a wise step if businesses consider them.
When you ignore the WCAG and ADA guidelines for website accessibility, there is also the risk of losing new business from government entities and conscious procurement departments in the United States. In the event that your website gets federal funding, assistance, or if you have contracts with the government, it is important for your website to be accessible. Or you may risk losing such funding, assistance, and your contracts with the government may be terminated. This is definitely not a risk you would want to take.
Although the impact of the ADA on online accessibility seems to be still vague, there is no question that equal access is a thing of major concern for users in America, and for the courts serving those users.
To make up for a clear set of national guidelines, abiding by WCAG accessibility standards is still the best option for most businesses. Aside from being a smart move to prevent accessibility lawsuits and negative publicity, it is simply right to provide accessible solutions for all users.
Not sure where to start to figure out if your website is ADA compliant or not? Check out this list of consulting companies that can help you figure it out.
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