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2018 ADA WEB ACCESSIBILITY LAWSUIT RECAP REPORT


The lawsuit culture that surrounds website accessibility has grown steadily over the past few years and shows no signs of slowing. UsableNet’s research team has been tracking all ADA web accessibility related lawsuits throughout 2018.

They affect companies large and small over a wide range of industries in communities at home and abroad. Insufficient progress toward accessibility by industry and unclear government guidance have only contributed to the problem.

REPORT CAPTURES OVER 2200 CASES IN 2018, A 181% INCREASE OVER 2017

The UsableNet research team has been tracking 2018 federally filed ADA web accessibility-related lawsuits. In 2018, we tracked 2285 lawsuits—up 181% over 2017 which had 814. Download report.

NEW YORK- AND FLORIDA-BASED PLAINTIFFS

New York and Florida are still where the majority of lawsuits are brought, but this reflects more about the plaintiffs and their lawyers’ locations and less about the companies being targeted. Any company that does business in these states can be targeted. New York and Florida represent 96% percent of total filings, but the key point here is that only the filings are in these two states; the companies listed are from all over.

THE EFFECT IS NATIONWIDE AND INTERNATIONAL

Taking a look at the headquarters locations of the companies that are listed in the New York and Florida filings, it’s clear that the whole nation is affected. The top ten states are New York, California, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Connecticut. Also, 11 percent of the cases involve non-US-based companies, so the effect is global.

THERE IS AN INDUSTRY PATTERN

Although many industries are involved across the cases, six stand out for the additional attention they get. Retail, food service, travel/hospitality, banking/financial, entertainment and leisure, and self-service, have the majority of cases, reflecting a general pattern over 2017 and 2018 toward these types of organizations.

DEFENDING LAWYERS VS. PLAINTIFF LAWYERS

With more than 600 law firms representing companies across the U.S., the top 10 law firms represent over one-third of all cases on the defendant side, while the top 10 plaintiff firms bring over three-fourths of all cases. The report lists the top 10 on each side of the fence squaring off on a regular basis that will likely mean similar settlements and agreements being agreed over time.

SUMMARY

Lawsuits at a federal level (covered in the report) continue to rise for two primary reasons.

Firstly, companies have not been proactive enough in both action and communication of digital accessibility, especially as people with disabilities rely more and more on them.

Secondly, the DOJ’s lack of a clear standard leaves lots of room for interpretation and allows even companies that have been proactive to be targeted.

Without action from the DOJ in 2019, which does not look likely, the most effective use of resources for any company is to immediately understand where it stands with regard to web accessibility and the popular standard of the WCAG; create a plan to remediate any barriers to people using assistive technology; and engage a third party to communicate and document the efforts. These three activities should help reduce the likelihood of a company being identified by plaintiffs and their lawyers.

About The Author

Jason C. Taylor is the Chief Innovation Strategist and Advisor to the UsableNet CEO with nearly 20 years of experience in usability and accessibility. He is a global technology thought leader for multichannel customer engagement, actively advising leading companies on how to extend their brands across multiple channels for all users. He has been an active member of the accessibility and usability communities since 2001 which started with leading partnerships between UsableNet, Macromedia (now Adobe) and The Nielsen Norman Group.

Contact The Author: jason@usablenet.com, http://www.usablenet.com Tel: +1 212 965 5388

About the author

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Milana Rose, AppLecture news editor. Kind, sympathetic and very inquisitive person, who loves to help people with the "computer", and not only those challenges sufficiently due to her knowledge. Hobbies - Apple products, drawing, dancing, swimming, a healthy lifestyle. In a private use - MacBook Air, iPad 2, iPhone 4, iPod Nano 5, iPod touch, Mac Mini.
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