The number of ADA lawsuits is on the increase. Young female lawyer at her desk.

What are ADA lawsuits & how do you protect your business against them?

Lawsuits against businesses that do not have accessible websites are on the rise in the United States. These lawsuits all cite a lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The law firm Seyfarth Shaw started tracking ADA lawsuits in 2013. They say that the number of these lawsuits has increased by 320% since 2013. Many of these lawsuits are brought against small businesses that are specifically targeted because they do not have the financial resources to defend themselves. Most opt for out-of-court settlements.

But even corporations with strong legal teams have been blindsided by these lawsuits and many have had to settle, paying millions of dollars. See the examples at the end of this article.

What is ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in various areas of life, including employment, public accommodations, and government services.

The act was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in July 1990. In the years since then, many companies and individuals have faced lawsuits alleging violations of ADA, ranging from failure to provide reasonable accommodations to discriminatory practices.

In many cases, these lawsuits have resulted in settlements requiring the defendants to make changes to their policies and practices to ensure compliance with ADA and compensate the plaintiffs for any harm suffered.

The Americans with Disabilities Act does not explicitly mention websites, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) has interpreted ADA to apply to websites as places of public accommodation when they offer goods, services, or information to the public.

ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation.

Legal documents on desk

Implications for businesses

This means that businesses and organizations must ensure that their websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing or have mobility or cognitive impairments.

There are no specific technical requirements or standards for website accessibility under the ADA, but the DOJ has referenced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a benchmark for accessibility. The WCAG are a set of technical guidelines for creating accessible websites and online content, and they are widely recognized as the industry standard for website accessibility.

Want to learn more?

Read our easy-to-understand introduction to website accessibility for entrepreneurs.

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[…] being able to make his clients’ websites accessible while at the same time protecting them from ADA lawsuits that are on the rise as more people seek to push businesses to have their websites comply with the […]