How To Avoid Harsh Accessibility Lawsuits and increase your revenue by Ensuring Your Website Meets ADA, WCAG, AODA and eAA Compliance
Published On: June 2nd, 2022 | Updated On: July 10th, 2022
If you’re a business owner with a functioning business website, then what you’re about to learn will not only save you from unnecessary legal risk, hefty fines and bad publicity, but can also generate new revenue for your business while doing good.
You may already be aware of accessibility laws which require places of business be accessible to persons with disabilities.
For example, having special parking spaces, ramps and properly fitted toilet facilities for people that use wheel chairs.
What you may not be aware of is that accessibility laws now also apply to business websites.
In October 2019 the 9th District Supreme Court in the US ruled that the American Disabilities Act (ADA) not only applies to physical spaces, but to websites as well. In Canada, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) required that websites become compliant by January, 2021. The European Accessibility Act (EAA) was passed by the European Union in April 2019 requiring accessibility for digital products and services.
This means that ensuring your business website is accessible to people with disabilities is no longer a choice or a trend, but is a standard that is required by law.
Website Accessibility Lawsuits Against Businesses Are On The Rise
Even before these laws came into play, there were lawsuits bought against businesses because their websites could not be properly used by persons with disabilities.
There have been some significant accessibility lawsuits brought against big companies including Netflix, Harvard University, Nike, Burger King, Amazon, MIT and Domino's Pizza, which resulted in fines and legal fees as high as $1,575,000.
There was even a website accessibility suit brought against Target for which Target reportedly paid a staggering $6,000,000 to settle!
Figures from the law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP indicate that there is a steady increase in the number of accessibility lawsuits brought against businesses.
The accessibility lawsuits that are specific are websites show a similar rising trend.
Interestingly, that’s just the statistics for lawsuits that ended up in court.
A 2020 report by Accessibility.com indicates that “265,000 website accessibility demand letters were sent to businesses… “ which represented a 64% increase from 2019.
According to the report these demand letters typically claim that the recipient company violates the law because their website is not accessible to individuals with disabilities, and states that that unless the company modifies its website to meet relevant standards, the company will continue to be in violation and risk a lawsuit.
The most frequent outcome of this process is a financial settlement.
Is Your Website At Risk Of A Lawsuit?
Take a quick FREE scan of your website to discover violations that could leave you open to accessibility lawsuits.
The Bureau of Internet Accessibility gave an estimation that U.S. businesses potentially spent billions on legal fees for inaccessible websites in 2020.
Businesses are strongly advised not to wait for a demand letter to get an accessibility plan in motion
Experts predict that increased awareness of the website accessibility requirements is likely to lead to more attention and higher rates of litigation.
Ensuring web accessibility for people with disabilities is a priority for the Department of Justice. In recent years, a multitude of services have moved online and people rely on websites like never before for all aspects of daily living. For example, accessing voting information, finding up-to-date health and safety resources, and looking up mass transit schedules and fare information increasingly depend on having access to websites - ADA.gov
Small Businesses Are Increasingly More At Risk to Web Accessibility Lawsuits... And The Penalties Are Hefty
Accessibility lawsuits don’t only apply to big brands… more and more small businesses are getting sued.
Experts suggest that this could simply be because many of the large companies have already been sued and have put accessibility programs in place, which would make for a natural progression to smaller companies.
Another concerning trend is that companies are receiving more than 1 lawsuit. A 2021 report by UseableNet indicates that nearly 500 lawsuits in 2021 were against companies that had received a previous lawsuit.
The minimum penalties can be harsh too. For a first-time violation, penalties usually range from $55,000 to $75,000. For a repeat violation, penalties can cost $150,000 although costs can potentially go way higher depending on your annual turnover. If you’re federally funded, you also risk your funding being revoked.
Ignorance About Website Accessibility Laws Wouldn't Save You
It is unfortunate that most small business owners are not aware of website accessibility requirements until it's too late.
Few business owners intentionally discriminate against persons with disabilities, but that doesn't prevent them from being targets for demand letters, and once your website violates the disability laws, you’re at great risk of lawsuits, hefty fines and negative publicity.
One news channel in the US describes businesses "sitting ducks for lawsuits" because their websites aren’t ADA compliant”
The risk of being sued is real, but mitigating risk is not the only reason to comply with website accessibility laws.
Is Your Website At Risk Of A Lawsuit?
Take a quick FREE scan of your website to discover violations that could leave you open to accessibility lawsuits.
Having an Accessible Website Improves User Experience, Maintains Good Online Reputation and Increases revenue
Having an accessible website means that it’s more usable to more people, including persons with disabilities, as well as other segments of the population such as senior citizens, persons with low literacy levels, people with low internet bandwidth and non-techie people.
This opens your business up to these market segments.
It also means that visitors to your website will have more positive experiences on your website, and are therefore significantly more likely to become first-time customers, repeat customers, and are more likely to share their experience with others.
But, how impactful can opening up your business to these segments be to your business?
Let's look at some revealing statistics about persons with disabilities...
Disability & Accessibility Statistics
Leave Your Website
Web users with disabilities will simply leave your website if it's not accessible to them.
Two-thirds of e-commerce transactions are abandoned by people who are blind because of lack of accessibility.
They would often return and spend more with a company that provides an accessible online experience.
Despite the growing number of accessibility lawsuits, many businesses have been slow to adopt an accessibility strategy. This means that making your business website accessible now gives you a clear competitive advantage.
It’s estimated that companies without accessible websites are losing $6.9 billion a year to competitors whose sites are accessible.
The Bottom Line Is... Making Your Website Accessible Has Several Benefits
Comply with legislation and avoid lawsuits
Avoid Bad Publicity
Reach More Customers
Improved Customer Experience
Increase Your Revenue
Gain The competitive edge
Improved website SEO
Gain repeat customers
Peace of Mind
How To Make Your Website Accessible And ADA, WCAG, AODA & EAA Compliant
In order for your website to become accessible it has to undergo remediation, which essentially means fixing the things on your website that makes it difficult for persons with disabilities to use.
Most website accessibility legislation, be it ADA, AODA, EAA or any other international regulation, are generally based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The WCAG explain how to make websites accessible for persons with disabilities and other limitations such as blindness, low vision, learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, deafness, hearing loss, speech disabilities and physical disabilities. The guidelines are written by accessibility specialists, volunteers and disabled people at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The stipulations and requirements outlined in the WGAC are extensive. As a business owner it's hard just to learn about the specifics, not to mention actually doing what it takes to remediate your website and get it up to compliance.
Luckily, there is now a simple and affordable way to get your website compliant in a matter of a few minutes from now.
The #1 Web Accessibility Solution for WCAG & ADA Compliance
UserWay is a pioneer, and continues to be at the forefront of website accessibility compliance solutions.
The company offers advanced website accessibility solutions that help websites get to compliance with ADA, WCAG, AODA, and other international regulations without interfering with your website's existing code.
Their solutions have been responsible for well over 1 million websites becoming more accessible and user-friendly including large corporations, SMEs, hotels, restaurants, charities, NGOs, non-profits, local and state agencies, governmental bodies, and more... and is trusted by international brands such as:
How UserWay Works
Getting your website compliant starts with the UserWay Accessibility Widget. Installing the widget on your website is a quick and painless process. Once installed, there will be a small non-intrusive icon on your website.
Visitors can use the icon to access the widgets accessibility interface.
The UserWay widget works to address your website accessibility in two ways - it works in the background to continually keep your website accessible, and the interface is designed to address accessibility requirements relating to the user-interface (UI), design, and readability of your website by enabling users to modify your site’s design to meet their individual needs.
The widget remediates your website in two ways:
- 1AI Powered Remediation - The UserWay Widget scans and analyzes the code on every page of your website, and automatically applies fixes to every violation it finds, making your website more accessible. The fixes are applied asynchronously so your site’s loading time and performance aren’t affected.
- 2User Triggered Functions - Visitors to your website can use the widget interface to personalize and take control of their experience on your website. To ensure that your site can adapt to the individual needs of each visitor, UserWay offers easy-to-use functions that can be triggered at will.
To ensure that your website can adapt to the individual needs of each visitor, the UserWay widget offers easy-to-use functions that can be triggered at their will. These functions are intuitive, easy to enable, and work alongside the AI-powered remediations.
The widget currently has 15 accessibility functions including the ability to read the text on the website, make text bigger, change the contrast and saturation of your website, highlight links, pause animation, increase text spacing, and more.
ACCESSIBILITY USER PROFILES
These allow users to personally adjust your website's design and UI to address the characteristics of a specific disability. All the user has to do is choose the one applicable to them.
There are currently 8 User Profiles:
Three Simple Steps To Continuous Website Accessibility Compliance
Install the UserWay accessibility widget on your website. Installation is simple and takes just about 3 mins.
The widget immediately uses A.I. technology to scan your website for accessibility errors, and automatically fixes the errors on your website.
The widget continually scans your website for updates and automatically fixes any new errors it finds.
Main Benefits & Features of The UserWay Accessibility Widget
Making your website accessible doesn't have to cost you thousands of dollars
Quickly scan your website for accessibility errors, and automatically fixes the errors
Doesn't affect your website's code and doesn't slow down the loading speed of your website
Installation is simple and takes about 3mins. Widget Interface is very intuitive
Built to protect your users' privacy and your website's security. Doesn't collect personal data
Continues to keep your website accessible even as your website grows to 1000s of pages
What Clients and Users With Disabilities are saying about UserWay
I need to use a computer. It’s a must-have tool for my job as a translator and simultaneous interpreter. When I go onto a webpage that UserWay has made accessible, all the buttons, images, and graphics are in the right place. I can get to where I’m going quickly and use the site the way I want to. Thank you UserWay!
BlueSky School was searching for a powerful accessibility tool that would not only meet our compliance needs but also provide a fully accessible end-user experience on our Moodle LMS site. UserWay checked all the boxes. I highly recommend UserWay to other academic institutions - it's easy to implement and very powerful. Most importantly, their tools make a real difference to our users.
Technology Infrastructure Specialist
Websites that don’t have UserWay, like my local supermarket’s site, can be really frustrating. They’re almost entirely unusable, forcing me to wait until my son is at home to use them. Recently, I’ve been relying on UserWay’s screen reader to hear what’s in front of me. It’s an incredibly powerful feature that lets me be more independent and make online transactions without having to rely on someone else for assistance.
M&A Attorney (Blind)
UserWay is amazing! This is the best accessibility solution on the market. Not only do they have the best technology, UserWay's support team is second to none... The speed and quality of my interactions with the team are unbelievable. They have gained a customer for life!
Founder at People Vote
We had been looking for a solution to improve the accessibility of our website for a while, so we were eager to jump on board after we explored UserWay and all of its incredible functions! With UserWay, we now have both a website and online platform for Young Carers that represent our community and values, making it one step easier to provide the support they need
National Marketing Manager, Little Dreamers
One of our clients recently received a baseless accessibility lawsuit after having implemented UserWay. UserWay’s team swiftly examined the allegations issue by issue. Not only did UserWay's technology ensure our client's site was fully ADA compliant, but the UserWay team also guided us through the process of formulating an air-tight response, convincing the Plaintiff to withdraw its claims without the need to engage in costly and time-consuming litigation.
userWay Case study
The Motley Fool is a private financial news and investment advisor founded in 1993. Each month, its online content is read by more than 50 million people. Their website has over 1,900 webpages and 20 million page views.
The Motley Fool was already structured well for accessibility, but its development team was spending a lot of time trying to keep the site updated to current standards. The organization’s leaders wanted a way to streamline the process.
Bolstered by support from its legal team, The Motley Fool implemented strong digital accessibility principles and an evaluation process for new and existing pages. While this worked initially, as the site’s popularity grew, the team sought out more options to continually maintain its high accessibility standards.
Part of that next step was to be inclusive of site visitors with health considerations that can’t easily be addressed with code alone. Dyslexia, for example, affects 20% of the population, while vision loss affects 13%. People with these disabilities require solutions that go beyond well-coded websites.
The UserWay Solution:
The Motley Fool selected UserWay to add an extra layer of accessibility to its already well-constructed site. With the integrated AI technology UserWay provides, it is able to ensure the Fool.com browsing experience is accessible to everyone.
In the graphic below, you can see how the widget found more than 40,000 accessibility issues on Fool.com. It also automatically corrected them all. To put this in perspective, it would take a small development team more than 2 years to manually re-code the site to achieve the same results!
Chris Harris / Director of Product, Fool.com
We were really excited when we found UserWay, and integration into Fool.com was seamless. UserWay is intuitive and provides significantly enhanced accessibility and functionality to our site's visitors. The contrast tools, screen reader, text controls, and more all elevate the user experience on our site. Simply put, UserWay provides exceptional value to us and our end-users.
Frequently Asked Questions
UserWay adheres to the current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requirements, which include a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to blindness, motor impairments, and various visual and cognitive disabilities.
The widget does not automatically create captions for videos nor remediate PDFs. UserWay does provide manual solutions that address such issues.
UserWay has been responsible for well over 1 million websites becoming more accessible and user-friendly including large corporations, SMEs, hotels, restaurants, charities, NGOs, non-profits, local and state agencies, governmental bodies, and more, and is trusted by international brands such as Coca-Cola, Disney, Land Rover, Walmart, and many others.
Absolutely! UserWay provides full customer support and dedicated assistance to help with legal actions.