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NAWAS - Website Accessibility / Website Accessibility  / ADA Lawsuits On The Rise
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ADA Lawsuits On The Rise

Lawsuits that target business websites for ADA violations are on the rise. With more and more Americans spending their time online, it is not a surprise that these uncharted waters of accessibility to the digital world for disabled people has led to lawsuits of this nature becoming more and more prevalent.

The Internet and the ADA

While the internet was around in 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed and President George H.W. Bush signed it into law, the internet was not as widely used by everyday Americans. The ADA requires public places such as hotels, restaurants, and shops, to name just a few, to be accessible to people with disabilities. With the advent of the internet and the American public’s increasing dependence on it, the digital world is facing challenges in light of ADA laws and regulations.

Nowadays, the average American is connected to the internet for at least a large part of their day and often throughout the night. The integration of the internet into our lives has changed the notion of space and how and where we spend time “going to.” Nowadays when someone says, “I’m going shopping,” it could mean that they are leaving their home and going to a store or mall but it can also mean that they are staying home and sitting down at their computer, or even just picking up their phone to do their shopping online.

In this sense, notions of space and place are transformed to where a “place” can now mean a digital space on the internet that is not tangible beyond a screen, even though this “place” is very much real for “where” a person spends their time. 

In light of this, it is not surprising that websites have come under legal scrutiny when it comes to their accessibility to disabled users. Many of the ADA lawsuits that have already been filed challenge websites that can’t be used by the visually or hearing impaired. 

ADA Lawsuits

At the end of 2018, almost 5,000 ADA lawsuits were filed in federal court for businesses and other entities that were in violation of the ADA in the first six months of that year. 1,053 of these lawsuits alleged website accessibility violations – over 20% of all ADA lawsuits for that time period. Compared to 2017, the rise in these numbers in 2018 show an increase of roughly 90%. It’s expected that more and more lawsuits will be filed as the years go on, with one woman alone having filed over 175 lawsuits.

 

Advocacy for Disabled People

Nowadays, people “go” to work, school, shopping and for a variety of services, through the use of the internet and its myriad of websites, apps and devices. More and more, advocates for the disabled are speaking out for people with disabilities, surrounding issues of website accessibility and how ADA compliance expectations for websites need to be up to par with those that brick-and-mortar businesses and other places such as schools, need to be compliant with, to allow them to use websites effectively and efficiently.

 

Website Accessibility

Many different things need to be done to make a website accessible to disabled people. These include but are not limited to:

– Content, the text that appears on the screen, needs to be coded so that screen-reading 

   software can translate the words to make an audio version of what is seen on the 

   screen. 

– Videos and other images that appear on the screen must include descriptions for 

  the hearing impaired.

– Keyboard commands need to be able to control all interactive functions for people with

  physical impairments that prevent them from being able to use a mouse or other 

  devices that need physical manipulation to operate.

These are just a few of the many things that websites need to do to be more ADA compliant and just a few of the reasons that businesses and other entities are increasingly facing ADA lawsuits for their lack of website accessibility.