Have You Gotten A Letter?
Have You Gotten A Letter?
Have You Received A Letter of Complaint?
Over the last several years, there has been a spike in web accessibility lawsuits. Web accessibility refers to the accommodation and/or design of tools, websites and technologies in order for people with disabilities such as vision, hearing, cognitive and motor impairments to adequately use them.
In today’s society, many people with disabilities rely heavily on the Internet to connect with friends, purchase goods, complete research and for some individuals, to be independent. When website barriers interfere with the ability to access and use websites equally, that is when a letter of complaint or lawsuit can occur, resulting from the inequality and discrimination they experienced.
Legal Trends in Web Accessibility
As these lawsuits continue to be filed, it is critical to have an in-depth understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act, in order to avoid litigation and secure the success of your organization. The 2010 American Disability Act (ADA) was enacted to provide a clear and comprehensive mandate for the elimination of national discrimination against disabled individuals. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act indicates that services must be available to all of the general public, including individuals diagnosed with disabilities.
As organizations begin to take appropriate steps to remediate their websites, people with disabilities will have the ability to access those websites, leading to a better overall experience. However, despite taking various appropriate measures, organizations can still be faced with the unpleasant and stressful process of receiving a letter of complaint or having a lawsuit filed.
If You’ve Received a Letter
If your organization has already received a letter of complaint, the good news is that there are several straightforward steps that can be taken to reduce the severity and impact of the process, helping not only your own organization, but all individuals who want to utilize your services. By providing an accessible website, your organization’s goodwill with customers will improve, increasing customer loyalty and appreciation, which in turn can potentially increase revenue. By waiting to address issues of non-compliance with web accessibility standards, not only do your customers suffer, but your organization suffers as well.
When Lawsuits Take Place
In the event that your organization is already facing a lawsuit, it is important to act quickly and efficiently to address it. Web Accessibility lawsuits arise as a result of website barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from easily accessing content. Examples of these barriers include inadequate navigation, use of fonts and color schemes that affect users with vision impairments, or links and buttons that are not keyboard accessible, affecting users who rely on similar types of assistive technology to navigate sites effectively.
Challenges Created by Lawsuits
Unfortunately, lawsuits can come with a long list of negative implications as well. They can ultimately leave a negative reputation on a business, which is why it is so important to consult with legal counsel immediately if you find yourself faced with a lawsuit. To ease the blow of a lawsuit as much as is possible, it’s critical that you have the right legal team behind you, including a strong consulting firm. You need a team that can quickly analyze legal risks and engage with your development teams to identify the issues and provide an assessment of what remediation actions are required to resolve the problems quickly and efficiently.
Was there Prior Knowledge of Compliance Issues?
Both your legal team and the DOJ will take into account whether or not organization knew there was an accessibility issue before the lawsuit was filed. They will also consider what steps were taken to address such obstacles and if the issues were ignored either by mistake or on purpose. All responses provided to the DOJ will play a large part in reducing the severity and seriousness of the litigation process. By providing evidence showing that issues were and are being addressed, you can have a significant positive impact on your case.
Accessibility is an Ongoing Pursuit
Not only is it important to address these accessibility obstacles as a result of the lawsuit, but your consulting firm partner can also educate your team throughout the process. It is important to understand that accessibility is not an event that only happens once. Essentially, it is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring to ensure that the website does not fall out of compliance in the future, which is always a possibility.
Continuous monitoring is crucial, due to the frequent fluctuations in web accessibility standards. A consulting firm can help you create and develop policies and procedures within your organization by teaming up with your web developers to confirm that continuous monitoring occurs. To put it simply, education is key to success.