Web accessibility could easily be the #1 topic for 2018 in both the design and marketing worlds. Lawsuits are on the rise along with a spirit of inclusivity. How long until other groups pick their version of the #MeToo banner? Plus, it’s the right thing to do.
Obviously, web accessibility was, is, and always will be important. But this is the year that internet marketers and web designers attack it head on.
Why? 2 reasons.
Mainly, it’s because they’ll be forced to. But also because the onslaught of lawsuits will lead to an onslaught of education. Many website operators will fix their websites because they’re decent people.
Web Accessibility goes from important to super important
On the legal side of the discussion, how much more warning can you ask for?
Lawsuits have been on the rise for the last few years. There were 57 website accessibility lawsuits in 2015, 262 in ’16, and 432 in ’17 (per Seyfarth article). That’s what? 750% increase in 2 years?
Oh wait, the ’17 numbers were for January through August. If the numbers hold, the yearly total might be over 600. And if 2018 follows 2017’s pattern, we could see over 1200 lawsuits.
And these aren’t shifty “drive-by” lawsuits. It isn’t a lawyer measuring your railing and suing because it’s a quarter inch off spec. These lawsuits are about real issues: people not being able to use the website.
Even if the lawsuit goes okay, you’re going to lose. The best you can really hope for is to not get hit with penalties. You still end up paying for their lawyers and your lawyer and then paying to update your website. Or you simply pay to update your website.
Maybe you won’t get hit with a lawsuit. I’ve heard stories about business owners being asked to settle instead of going to court – settle and then fix their website.
Have you seen the pattern? Fix your website vs spend a bunch of money on lawyers, fees, settlements, and lawyers then fix your website.
On top of all that, the Department of Justice has opted to not publish official guidelines on web accessibility. You might have been able to say that you were waiting of official DOJ guidance. But that excuse is off the table.
Pair those 2 facts and you have no excuse not ensure that your website is ADA / WCAG compliant.
You really only have 2 options:
Be a decent human being and smart business person and have a compliant website.
Be… foolish? lazy? There’s really no reason not to be compliant. Yes, it’s an investment. But it’s worth it on so many levels.
Be compliant or risk a lawsuit you have no hope to win. Let me know if you’d like some help with your site.
Update January 6, 2018: Here’s an article that gives a great overview of the web compliance situation
Standard legal disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, doctor, ninja, guru, or polar bear. I am providing information to help you do the right thing. You are responsible for your own actions, etc, etc.