3 Things to Know about ADA Web Accessibility Lawsuits in 2019

August 8, 2019 BY JASON TAYLOR

The World Wide Web turns 30 this year and as it takes on an increasingly all-encompassing role in our everyday lives, Web accessibility lawsuits have reached a rate of one every working hour. 

The UsableNet research team monitors data from all federally filed ADA lawsuits for Web and Mobile app accessibility trends, the topic of a previous 3Play Media blog post. We’re happy to share some of the findings from our Midyear report ADA Web and Accessibility Report here.  

1. Lawsuits are on the Rise 

Midyear data from UsableNet predicts that in 2019 ADA Web Accessibility lawsuits will once again reach over 2,000 lawsuits and 2019 likely to outpace the rate of 2018. In 2018, we tracked 2285 federal ADA related Web lawsuits—up from only 814 lawsuits in 2017.

A graphic communicates that 2019 is set to beat 2018 and rack up over 2,000 digital accessibility related lawsuits

2. These cases settle fast 

As part of our new research for 2019, we looked at the length of the average case. We found that the majority of these cases settle and settle fast, 55% of the cases filed in 2019 settled within just 60 days. The legal reasoning that we hear most often for this when speaking with industry contacts is that it’s more cost-effective for companies to settle the lawsuit and then get to work on remediation then to drag it out in the courts.

A graphic communicates that 93% of cases from 2018 have settled while 7% remain open. UsableNet found that 55% of 2019 cases have already settled within 60 days.

3. There’s an emerging trend affecting the most targeted industries 

We predicted that like 2018, the industries targeted the most would also be integral parts of people’s lives and industries most likely to have complex websites. The top industries continue to be food service, travel, real estate and entertainment with Retail leading the pack for the industry with the most lawsuits

Upon taking a closer look, we found that in addition to getting sued more often, some industries are more likely to receive multiple lawsuits.  In the last two years, 31% of retailers listed in suits and 17 % of food services companies listed in lawsuits were sued multiple times. For companies with multiple brands, it could be the 6th or 7th time the holding company has been listed in a lawsuit. 

 

A graphic communicates at 31% of retail companies listed in suits since July 2017 have been sued multiple times and 17% of food service companies listed in suits since July 2017 have been sued multiple times

 

It’s a Complex Issue

With no foreseeable regulation from the US Department of Justice on the horizon, many legal experts predict we’ll continue to see plaintiffs from the disability community pursuing ADA-based legal action against companies with inaccessible websites as a form of legal activism. 

In this digital age, members of the disability community are sending a clear message to companies that they will not be left behind. At the same time, many companies are unaware of this issue until they receive legal action. 

Unfortunately, getting started can seem overwhelming. Web accessibility requires that multiple elements come together, including browsers, users, design platforms, mobile apps, and the websites themselves. (To help, I’ve written our Web & App Accessibility guide available for free download here). 

A company’s best course of action is to be proactive in both action communication. Evaluation is the easiest place to start. Evaluate your Website and apps for accessibility and then create a plan to remediate any barriers; finally, communicate and document those efforts. 

Learn more

This is a guest blog written by Jason Taylor, Chief Innovation Officer and Advisor to the CEO at UsableNet.

UsableNet is a leading company in web accessibility technology and services for the retail, food service, travel/hospitality, banking/financial, entertainment and self-service industries. UsableNet has been building on its Patented Technology and UX experience for more than 18 years to offer world-class solutions to companies to address Accessibility for desktop, mobile and multi-channel digital engagement.

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