Digital Accessibility Lawsuits

Digital accessibility lawsuits have been increasing year over year. The best strategy to protect your organization is to be proactive.

Trends in Digital Accessibility Lawsuits by Year. Bar chart. 2016 has 262 lawsuits, 2017 has 814 lawsuits, increase of 210% from 2016, 2018 has 2314 lawsuits, increase of 184% from 2017, 2019 has 2890 lawsuits, decrease of 25% from 2018, 2020 has 3503 lawsuits, increase of 21% from 2019, 2021 has 4011 lawuits, increase of 14% from 2020, 2022 has 4061 lawsuits, increase of 1% from 2021

Cases on the Rise

Digital accessibility lawsuits are an increasing concern for many businesses and organizations. Government agencies and organizations that receive government funding are subject to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires them to meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines.

But even organizations not subject to Section 508 are still bound by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Federal Circuit Courts have mandated that websites are subject to ADA regulations.

MORE THAN 600 lawsuits were filed in 2022 against companies using widgets or overlays as an accessibility solution for their websites.

Pie chart of Lawsuits by state: New York 1756 (49.5%), California 989 (27.9%), Florida 542 (15.3%), Rest of US 263 (7.4%)

Majority of Lawsuits in 3 States

New York, California, and Florida accounted for over 90% of website accessibility lawsuits in 2020 due to their significant state civil rights laws. While the ADA at the federal level does not allow plaintiffs to recover damages beyond compensation for court costs and legal fees, some state laws do allow plaintiffs to recover punitive damages for discrimination caused by an inaccessible website. Some states also enforce discrimination laws against any company whose website is available to residents of their state, regardless of where the company is located.

While much of 2020 was utterly unprecedented, the increase of website accessibility lawsuits is not. Increasingly, people with disabilities are becoming frustrated with companies’ failure to create websites that are accessible. The only way an organization can guarantee it won’t face ADA lawsuits is to make sure every part of its business- both in the built and digital environments- is accessible to every visitor.

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Avoiding Digital Accessibility Lawsuits

The best course of action to avoid the expense and trouble of digital accessibility lawsuits is to be proactive.

  1. Have a Digital Accessibility Policy and enforce it rigorously
  2. Ensure employees are trained in accessibility and responsibilities are clearly outlined
  3. Regularly audit and remediate websites and online documents
  4. Respond promptly and helpfully to any complaints. Do not delay resolution to any issues that arise.
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