With the evolution of the Internet, the U.S. Department of Justice has been working to expand and develop enforceable website accessibility regulations. The department has indicated that it is considering modeling its anticipated regulations after either the Section 508 Standards, which govern websites operated by federal government agencies, or what are known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which were created by the World Wide Web Consortium. Despite the lack of formal regulations, plaintiffs lawyers have sent demand letters to and filed lawsuits against small businesses and big corporations alike. Dozens of lawsuits filed across the country claim that the general provisions and purpose of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to website accessibility and list the Section 508 Standards and WCAG 2.0 as alternative benchmarks for compliance. There are some tips businesses can follow in order to prevent threatened website accessibility litigation and to defend against such lawsuits should they be targeted. First, they should implement features on their websites that enhance accessibility to persons with disabilities. These include font size, text, and background contract considerations. Website accessibility should be considered early on in the design phase because it is more cost-effective to include accessibility features from the start. Companies should work with counsel to develop defenses to ADA litigation or to develop strategies should a suit be filed. Finally, businesses should consider contractual provisions in website vendor contracts that could provide protection and minimize potential exposure.
Corporate Counsel (04/27/16) Lumpkin, Carol C.; Moot, Stephanie N.