California now Home To Increasing Numbers of Lawsuits about Accessibility.
Is your public facing website compliant for the blind and disabled?
On a recent trip to LA promoting .LA a business owner friend told me about what he called, “The Attorney Retirement Fund Act”. If your in California you have probably received a letter about your website, and if its compliant with screen reader technology for the blind, and other accessibility issues.
If your in the regulated group, any customer who can’t access and use your site, and all technologies within, can bring an action. Even if your not, knowing how to make your website more accessible is important to be able to work with all customers.
“Taking a look at data collected from the 2018 ADA Website lawsuit report, it’s clear why a local newspaper in California is covering the topic: companies in California made up 10% of all cases in 2018. But the impact is global. From 2018 to 2017 there was an 181% rise in website accessibility lawsuits and midyear 2019 data shows that 2019 may be another record breaking year.” Source https://blog.usablenet.com/ada-website-lawsuits-on-the-rise-in-california
A California Restaurant Group wrote
“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires that businesses provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities.
This includes electronic media and websites. The ADA and its California counterparts, the California Disabled Persons Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act, govern places of public accommodation. While the ADA applies to businesses with 15 or more employees, even smaller businesses can benefit from ensuring that their websites are ADA compliant. Doing so not only limits liability, but opens your company up to potential new customers who visit your website.”
For those looking to buy domain names in the area the key words seem to be usability and accessibility. The UsableNet.com story quoted above provides a nice summary and tips on what to do if your sued, or before.
You can signup for a free test or audit by one of the many audit sites, which seem to be run in partnership with Law Firms looking to provide advice and counsel.
Many trends start in California, and slowly move nationwide. I expect this one will also.
Globally, you should look at the laws applicable to your website also. Here is a brief summary of the UK situation:
“The Equality Act affects everyone in the United Kingdom that provides services to the public — or a section of the public — whether in the private, public or voluntary sectors. Since websites constitute a service to the public they are covered by Part 3 of the Equality Act.” Source https://www.levelaccess.com/accessibility-regulations/united-kingdom/
UsableNet.com writes in another piece late last year what they see happening in the future. Expect more vendor friendly solutions from third parties, and more lawsuits.