ADA Website Compliance: A Rising Cause of Professional Liability Claims

Having an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant website could mean the difference between your business having no problems and having a professional liability insurance claim to deal with. As we discussed in a previous blog, it’s definitely important to know what you’re risking when you don’t comply with the law, and in this digital age, this includes your digital property as well as your physical premises.

While regulations through the Trump administration this year have subsequently stalled with the singing of a new executive order, law firms are still going forward with keeping companies in line. The list of who has had a claim filed against them is endless, and whether the company is big or small, everyone’s affected. Some companies who have been hit include Target, the American Cancer Society, Major League Baseball, Domino’s Pizza and others. With that in mind, let’s go over ADA website compliance and how failing to comply could hurt your business.

How Public Accommodation Works

The thought is simple. A place of public accommodation needs  to be accessible for everyone. This spills over onto websites, which are essentially a public place, albeit one that does not have a physical property. While the law hasn’t actually been passed that the internet actually counts under this guise, there’s been lawyers who have argued that is does, and they’ve won. Overall, if you have a physical location that complies to ADA-regulations (sales or food), then it’s best that your website does too. As for those who are web-based, if your selling goods or services, you might want to think about compliance. A web-based business can be sued anywhere they are regularly transacting business.

How to Make a Website (Or App) Accessible

Although there’s currently no laws requiring anything, there’s been some voluntary guidelines erected online by W3C, an international consortium that develops web standards. At the most basic level, websites should be accessible in this manner:

  • Text alternatives provides for non-text content
  • Alternatives for time-based media are provided
  • Consent must be shown in different ways without losing structure
  • Easy to see and hear
  • All functionality can stem from a keyboard
  • Sufficient time is available to read content
  • Nothing is used that can cause seizures.
  • Includes ways that users can navigate through the website and find where they are
  • Text is readable and understandable
  • Operates and appears in predictable ways
  • Helps users avoid and correct mistakes
  • Is compatible with current and future user agents, including assistive web technologies.

Avoiding a professional liability insurance claim is as easy as making sure your website is ADA-compliant.

What Should a Business Do?

Law firms have become increasingly aggressive when it comes to this type of litigation. A threat often starts with a letter claiming the business website is not complaint, and then it goes from there. If you want to avoid having these types of issues, go ADA-compliant. It’s wise to evaluate the costs going into these types of situations and then figure out where to go from there. Website accessibility needs to come sooner rather than later.

 

About Axis Insurance

At Axis Insurance Services, we aim to help our customers identify their exposures and protect themselves. Founded in 1999, we offer insurance programs to a wide variety of professionals and industries including attorneys, real estate, healthcare, architects, and more, and also have a wholesale division. We pride ourselves on offering flexible insurance coverage tailored specifically to each customer’s needs. To learn more about our solutions, contact us at (201) 847-9175 to speak with one of our professionals.

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