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Should Your Website be Accessible or not Accessible, that is the question?

The answer by most businesses and organizations seems to be NO!  Believe it or not, a phenomenal 98% of homepages from one million popular websites failed to meet legal accessibility standards when surveyed by WebAIM in 2019. WebAim is a leading organization, who seek multifaceted partnerships with organizations seeking to foster an internal culture of accessible design and development.

WebAim accessibility survey results

One has to question, are these organizations just not aware of their obligations and the risks that they run by discriminating against people with specific disabilities, visual impairments and learning issues. Let’s not forget that there are currently 1.3 billion people with vision impairment in the world, including 36 million blind people. It’s also been forecast that the number of people who are blind worldwide will increase threefold by 2050, from 36 million to 115 million. A staggering number not to be cared for or accommodated especially when you consider recent legal developments in the USA. 

What many people do not realize is that in early October 2019, the US Supreme Court cleared the way for blind people to sue Domino’s Pizza and other retailers if their websites are not accessible ( https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-10-07/blind-person-dominos-ada-supreme-court-disabled).

The justices turned down an appeal from Domino’s and let stand a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, upholding that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects access not just to restaurants and stores, but also to the websites and apps of those businesses.  Please note this is not a formal ruling upholding of the 9th Circuit decision, and the justices could agree to take up the issue later if lower courts are divided. However, for now, the court’s action strongly suggests that US-based companies will be required to make their websites accessible.

More importantly is that Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Law Suits are growing substantially, especially in California  (https://www.adatitleiii.com/2019/07/federal-ada-title-iii-lawsuit-numbers-continue-to-climb-in-2019). The highlight of the article is that a plaintiff can receive $4,000 automatically without proving that they have incurred damages. It also seems that the plaintiffs are focusing in on bigger corporations and high profile businesses. Imagine if 100 people decide to take a Lawsuit against your business? Can many businesses afford to hand out $400,000?

Graph of ADA lawsuit numbers 2014 to 2019

As stated in Seyfath’s blog; “California continues to lead the country with 2,444 federal ADA Title III lawsuits in the first six months of 2019, with New York trailing far behind with 1,212 such suits.  Florida is a close third with 1,074 federal suits. California continues to be a very popular jurisdiction because plaintiffs can add on a state law Unruh Act claim which provides for $4,000 in statutory damages for each incident of discrimination. This statutory damages provision gives prevailing plaintiffs an automatic payment so they do not even need to prove that they incurred any actual damages unless they want to recover more.”

So with all of the above in mind, we would strongly recommend protecting your business that you ensure that you are making efforts to make your web presence and apps accessible.  To assist we are offering a free accessibility report on your existing website.

Get in touch as we are happy to work with you to protect your online business, feel free to get in touch with Eddie Ryce or Keith Gutu.

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