• Banks Subject to New Wave of ADA Lawsuits
  • September 15, 2016
  • Law Firm: Rhoads Sinon LLP - Harrisburg Office
  • In the past year, businesses across the country have received demand letters or been served with a lawsuit for failure to maintain an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible website.

    Business websites are considered to be “public accommodations,” making them subject to standards to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. Generally, this means designing websites in a way that allow blind and visually impaired customers access via screen reading software and other technologies. Currently, there are no specific standards for websites under the ADA. The Department of Justice (DOL) is in the process of developing regulations for website accessibility, but the projected completion is 2018. Even so, the DOL has emphasized that businesses should make websites accessible to the disabled.

    While the regulations are being developed, businesses have been using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), created by a private company, The World Wide Web Group. The use of these standards has been approved by the DOL.

    Also in the interim, plaintiffs firms have been issuing letters on behalf of blind or visually impaired clients demanding that the websites be brought into compliance with the WCAG guidelines. These demand letters threaten a lawsuit against the company in federal court unless a settlement is reached which typically requires payment of the plaintiff firm's legal fees and redesign of the website. Most recently, the new wave of demands has been directed towards banks.