FM Legal Trends Blog Post

2024 Update: Navigating the Rise in ADA Digital Accessibility Lawsuits

As 2024 unfolds, one legal trend from the past year bears watching: digital accessibility lawsuits are on the rise. This highlights the growing importance of ensuring your website is accessible to everyone — and understanding the legal implications of an inaccessible website. 

What Does ADA Compliance for a Website Even Mean?

You might be wondering what ADA compliance for a website entails. Essentially, it means that your website needs to be accessible to people with disabilities, ensuring everyone can interact with your content without barriers. This includes providing simple ways for users with various disabilities to navigate, understand, and engage with your site.

An ADA-compliant website ensures that all visitors, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, can access your digital offerings. Key aspects of such a website involve making it navigable, understandable, and usable for everyone.

It’s important to note that having a new website doesn’t automatically mean it meets ADA compliance. Each site needs specific adjustments and features to ensure full accessibility, which is not just a one-time task but an ongoing commitment to inclusivity.

By striving for ADA compliance, you not only widen your audience but also foster an inclusive environment that respects all users' rights to access information and services equally.

State Lawsuits Surge

The ramifications of inaccessibility are costly. In 2023, an estimated 250,000 demand letters pertaining to digital accessibility were sent to businesses, often leading to costly settlements. Unresolved cases can escalate into full-blown lawsuits; a record 4,605 ADA digital accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2023 — a 13% increase from the previous year. 

The rise in cases was most pronounced at the state level, which accounted for 33% of all lawsuits last year. New York emerged as the epicenter, but even if your company has no physical presence in the state, you’re not immune: any business with customers in New York is susceptible to lawsuits regardless of their location.

Ecommerce businesses bore the brunt of digital accessibility lawsuits in 2023, accounting for a staggering 82% of all cases. 

More Than a Legal Obligation

These trends paint a clear picture: businesses need to prioritize digital accessibility for their websites to avoid costly legal action. But accessibility isn’t just a legal obligation: it’s a moral responsibility and an opportunity to connect with a broader audience.

Emphasizing accessibility allows you to reach a wider customer base, including individuals with disabilities, while demonstrating your commitment to inclusion and social responsibility. The goodwill you will earn in complying with ADA requirements is priceless! 

4 Steps to ADA Compliance

Ensure digital accessibility and make your website ADA-compliant by following these steps:

  1. Conduct an accessibility audit. Utilize assistive technologies like screen readers and keyboard-only navigation to identify accessibility barriers. Online tools like WAVE, Axe Accessibility Checker, and A11Y Accessibility Checker can scan your website for issues, identifying potential problem areas. Consider a professional website accessibility audit for a comprehensive evaluation. Foremost Media can help with this! 
  2. Create an accessibility plan. Once you have identified critical accessibility issues, outline steps to resolve them. Establish goals and deadlines for improvement, and designate team members responsible for accessibility implementation and maintenance. 
  3. Implement accessibility best practices. Follow established guidelines and best practices to ensure accessibility. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are an international standard for website accessibility. Their best practices include:
    1. Keyboard accessibility: Make sure all content and website functions are accessible using only the keyboard, so users unable to use a mouse can easily navigate and interact with your site.
    2. Screen reader compatibility: Ensure your website works seamlessly with screen readers, allowing users with visual impairments to comprehend and navigate through your site.
    3. Alt text for images: Provide clear and concise descriptions for all images, making content easier to understand for users with cognitive disabilities.
    4. Color contrast: Maintain sufficient contrast between text and background colors to improve readability for users with visual impairments.
    5. Clear and concise language: Use simple, easy-to-understand language. Avoid jargon and overly complex sentence structures, making content easier to understand for users with cognitive impairments.
    6. Descriptive headings: Structure your content with logical and meaningful headings, enabling users to find specific content easily and navigate efficiently.
  4. Stay informed. Keep yourself updated on evolving legal and accessibility standards and best practices by subscribing to accessibility newsletters and resources, attending webinars and conferences, and joining online accessibility communities. 

By taking these proactive steps, you can protect your business, expand your reach, and build a more inclusive online presence. 

Isn't My Company To Small To Be The Target Of An ADA Lawsuit?

Absolutely not! The belief that smaller businesses fly under the radar of ADA lawsuits is a widespread myth that needs dispelling. The reality is starkly different and affects businesses across the board, regardless of their size. In fact, the data from 2023 delivers a wake-up call: 77% of ADA lawsuits were filed against organizations with under $25 million in revenue. This statistic vividly illustrates that small to medium-sized businesses are not only at risk but are currently the primary targets of these legal actions.

At Foremost Media, we emphasize the critical nature of ADA compliance for every business, not as a fear tactic but as a proactive measure of inclusivity. Ensuring your website is accessible to all users is a cornerstone of modern digital presence, reflecting a commitment to equality and opening your services to a broader audience. It's not just about legal compliance; it's about building a more inclusive digital world. Let's partner to fortify your website against potential lawsuits while enhancing its accessibility, embodying our ethos of excellence and inclusivity in the digital landscape.

Unlocking the Secrets of ADA Compliance for Enhanced Website Accessibility

Did you know that the path to a fully accessible website often begins with addressing color contrast? A staggering 83% of websites reviewed in 2023 by accessibility experts at WebAIM encountered issues with color contrast, underscoring its prevalence as a barrier to readability online. Insufficient contrast hampers the ability of visitors to clearly see text against its background, leading to diminished reading speed and understanding. This not only affects user experience but also stands as a pivotal concern in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, along with guidelines set forth by various international entities dedicated to digital inclusivity.

The importance of adhering to these standards cannot be overstated. Falling short of ADA compliance can lead to severe legal repercussions, including potential lawsuits that may cost businesses upwards of $100,000. Moreover, non-compliance risks alienating up to 16% of your site's audience, emphasizing the need for businesses to elevate their focus on making their online presence accessible to all.

Within the framework provided by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), there are 78 specific success criteria designed to gauge and guide the enhancement of website accessibility. Among these, color contrast plays a critical role.

What Exactly Is Color Contrast?

Color contrast refers to the difference in light between text (or other elements) and its background, making the content discernible or not to the viewer. This difference is quantified in ratios ranging from 1:1, indicative of no contrast, to 21:1, representing the highest possible contrast. For a website to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards, it must achieve a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for standard text and 3:1 for larger text. Here, "larger text" is classified as any text that is over 24px in size or bold text that is 18.66px or larger.

Incorporating these guidelines into your website's design not only aligns with legal and ethical standards but also ensures a more inclusive and navigable online environment for all users. Prioritizing accessibility through measures like improved color contrast is more than a compliance effort; it's a commitment to providing an equal online experience for every visitor, regardless of their abilities.


For more information, or to schedule a website accessibility audit, contact the Foremost Media team

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