Unfortunately for businesses, there is no magic bullet for website accessibility compliance and many website fixes can be cost-prohibitive for some companies. Many of these ADA website accessibility lawsuits have focused on larger businesses with perceived deeper pockets, likely because plaintiffs’ counsel believe these businesses are more willing to pay small settlements to dispose of these cases. Therefore, many smaller businesses that operate websites have opted to monitor developments until the Congress, the DoJ, or another agency provides better guidance. However, larger, more conservative businesses seeking to minimize litigation risk are often opting to retain a reputable web designer to ensure the company’s full compliance with WCAG 2.1 (or 2.0), or at least work toward that goal.
In June 2018, the W3C released WCAG 2.1, which caused further confusion for businesses trying to decide what standard to follow. However, the DoJ’s September 25, 2018 statement confirmed that the important decision for businesses is not whether to comply with a certain set of guidelines, but whether a disabled person can access the company’s goods, services, and benefits through its website.
Very often, a single Plaintiff’s attorney and sometimes the same disabled individual will file dozens or more lawsuits against many different companies alleging technical violations of Title III, and seek injunctive relief (e.g., for the company to make its website ADA accessible) and attorneys’ fees that are authorized by the statute. These lawsuits have targeted businesses across a number of industries, including retail stores, restaurants, health care providers, and e-commerce companies. This glut of litigation over alleged technical ADA website compliance violations has frustrated the courts, and, thus far, neither Congress nor the Department of Justice (the “DoJ”), the primary federal government agency responsible for enforcing the ADA, have adequately clarified the scope of the ADA in terms of website accessibility compliance for private companies.