May 25, 2016

Review Your Website NOW to Avoid an ADA Troll

Since last summer, the Pennsylvania law firm Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kipela, a firm with an extremely active ADA litigation practice, has filed at least eleven lawsuits alleging ADA violations based on web accessibility. The lawsuits target restauranteurs and national retailers such as Brooks Brothers, Footlocker and Hark Rock Café, with Carlson Lynch then proceeding to send hundreds of demand letters to retailers offering to settle these ADA web access claims. Since private law firms no longer drive ADA web access litigation, every business with an online presence is a potential target.

We advise clients to begin taking the necessary steps to ensure they have an accessible website before a lawsuit is filed in order to avoid costly and burdensome litigation. In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has emphasized that businesses should make their websites accessible to the disabled and has been strict to enforce website accessibility.

With no set ADA guidelines to reference, it has been suggested by commentators that businesses should make sure they meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) used by both the DOJ and private law firms. To comply with WCAG 2.0, websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Perceivable implies a website can provide text alternatives for non-text content, provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia, create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning, and make it easier for users to see and hear content. Operable means a website makes all functionality available from a keyboard, gives users enough time to read and use content, does not use content that causes seizures, and helps users navigate and find content. Understandable implies a website should make text readable and understandable, make content appear and operate in predictable ways, and help users avoid and correct mistakes. And robust means a website maximizes compatibility with current and future user tools.

With experts saying complete compliance is impossible for any complex website and minimum website upgrade costs ranging anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000, we urge clients to call us for further guidance on this serious issue.