Are you ADA Compliant? Do you need to be?

Starting in 2009, various courts held that the ADA applies to the websites of places considered to be “public accommodations” under that law.  As such, the websites had to be made accessible to individuals with disabilities.  However, there has been a lack of clarity from the courts, legislative bodies, or the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) – the primary enforcers of the ADA – on what standards websites must meet to be compliant with the ADA.

Some People You May Know:

Nearby, these organizations have been sued for lacking ADA Compliance. In addition to having to payout large sums of money, these organizations have to make their website ADA Compliance, with an expected cost of $25,000 – $35,000

  • Winn Dixie paid $100,000
  • The City of Venice had to payout $10,000
  • Charlotte County $10,500
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Miami University, paid $25,000
In 2024, businesses continue to face an increasing number of lawsuits for having websites that are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires that places of public accommodation, including websites, be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Recent Court Rulings

Several high-profile court cases in 2023 and 2024 have reinforced the notion that websites must be ADA compliant. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that commercial websites are considered places of public accommodation and must be accessible to individuals with disabilities[1].

Web Accessibility Guidelines

To ensure ADA compliance, websites must follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These guidelines cover a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible, including:

  • Providing text alternatives for non-text content
  • Making all functionality available from a keyboard
  • Giving users enough time to read and use content
  • Helping users navigate and find content
  • Making text readable and understandable
  • Maximizing compatibility with current and future user tools

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Businesses found to have non-compliant websites can face significant penalties, including:

  • Monetary damages awarded to plaintiffs
  • Court orders to remediate websites within strict deadlines
  • Payment of plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees
  • Potential loss of customers and reputation damage

Steps for Compliance

To avoid potential lawsuits and ensure equal access for all users, businesses should take the following steps to make their websites ADA compliant:

  1. Conduct an accessibility audit to identify barriers
  2. Develop a remediation plan to address issues
  3. Implement WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards
  4. Test the website with assistive technologies
  5. Establish policies and training for ongoing compliance

By prioritizing web accessibility and proactively addressing ADA compliance, businesses can avoid costly lawsuits, improve their online experience for all users, and demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and equal access.