What Should Your Organization Be Doing to Avoid Digital Accessibility Litigation?
No organization wants to be sued. And in the case of accessibility lawsuits, it’s a safe bet that nobody really wants to sue your organization – what they want is access to your organization’s goods, services or information. According to Laura Carlson’s review of accessibility cases between 2015 and 2017, the majority of accessibility lawsuit settlements are less about financial compensation than about specific requirements to ensure that the defending organization becomes compliant with accessibility guidelines. What this means for your organization is that by being proactive about accessibility, the costs in time, staff productivity and legal fees can be avoided by making your organization accessible before an accessibility litigation happens.
Why Your Organization Needs to be Accessible Right Now
Litigation is costly, it takes up large swaths of time, it creates bad press, and it redirects not only financial resources but also staff resources that could be spent on productivity and customer engagement. More importantly, beyond legal requirements and avoiding litigation, there are distinct business benefits in making your organization accessible. These include innovation, brand enhancement, and increased market reach.
With 25 percent (one in four) people in the United States dealing with some type of disability, your audience is going to include people who may need to use alternative methods or assistive technology to access your website. The disability market is estimated to be nearly $7 trillion worldwide, and nearly $200 billion in the US alone. Don’t lose out on that market share: be proactive about your organization’s digital accessibility. To learn more about the benefits of being accessible, read The Business Case for Accessibility published recently by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
How you become proactive and avoid accessibility lawsuits
So what should your organization be doing? What are the steps on the path to accessibility?
- Become educated about ADA section 508 and WCAG guidelines.
- Conduct an audit of your website to ensure that it meets these guidelines.
- Acquire resources to assist with developing an accessibility policy, help ensure continued compliance, and provide ongoing accessibility education.
- Appoint an Accessibility Coordinator to implement your accessibility policy.
- Assess VPATs or accessibility statements from vendors before conducting purchases of new software and hardware.
- Conduct training so that employees can be proactive about maintaining compliance.
Start now. Avoid litigation and the loss of time and resources. Get a bigger piece of the market share. Learn what you need to do to become accessible and stay accessible.
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Ryan Pugh | Director of Accessibility | Equidox Prior to joining Equidox, Ryan Pugh served as an Access Technology Analyst for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) in Baltimore, where he was the NFB's focal point for accessibility and usability testing. He conducted intensive web accessibility audits for compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA for numerous Fortune 500 companies, including some of the world’s largest online retailers, notable colleges and universities, government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels and for other non-profit institutions. He also delivered accessibility training workshops and managed the NFB’s document remediation program, specializing in PDF accessibility.