The Cost For ADA Accessibility

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Planter full of coins with new leaves growing out of the top

Many businesses are learning the costly lessons of not being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the wake of COVID-19, The National Law Review estimates a 75% increase in ADA accessibility lawsuits from 2018 to 2021. And the case numbers are rising rapidly. However, what makes these lawsuits costly isn’t what you might think, and it is avoidable.  

You see, millions of Americans depend on access to goods, services, and information via digital platforms; this includes people with disabilities. Imagine the frustration of having the law on your side but having doors closed and locked repeatedly. Frustration is what many people with disabilities experience, whether it be in person or via the web.

Did you know that most people with disabilities are unwilling to settle and quietly walk away without the business becoming ADA compliant? So, the initiation of a complaint is a consumer wanting equal access to purchase goods and services from the same organizations they are suing. They do not want to jump into a legal battle any more than businesses want to discriminate intentionally. However, inaction by companies in ADA compliance forces consumers to take action.

Finding Common Ground in ADA Accessibility 

There is hope and common ground if everyone works together in the best interest of resolution. It starts with understanding. 

Did you know that ADA accessibility laws have been in place since 1990, over 30 years ago? However, the digital platform 30-years ago wasn’t the same as it is today. The ADA didn’t address digital accessibility because the law intended to include all areas of access, not just a brick-and-mortar location. However, as the past year has proven, digital access was often the only way to access most businesses. How would business be conducted if it were not digitally?  

The number of Americans with visual impairments is on the rise. And, it is essential to understand they rely on ADA accessibility for shopping, information, and safety. The shift to digital platforms in these three areas is not just for people with disabilities; it’s for all people. So, you can see why ADA compliance is vital for many Americans. 

Consumers Have Choices

So, what happens when a person with a disability cannot access a website? There are multiple pathways a person with a visual disability can take when seeking visual independence and equality.  

Several apples and oranges side by side

Choose Another Company

An individual could opt to do business with another company that is ADA compliant. There are many companies at least attempting to be in compliance with the ADA in order to serve all clients. Finding a company that supports visual independence is likely the route most people will take.  

A company that is not in compliance loses revenue and clients without knowledge or understanding. At the same time, the compliant company gains business and accolades. 

Ask About Becoming ADA Compliant

A person might contact an organization not in compliance to try and gain access to goods, services, and information. The company is now on notice that they are not in compliance. The company can attempt to work with the individual—the best win-win option for the company and the client.  

Companies gain both revenue and potentially raving fans when they work towards compliance.  

File a Formal Complaint with the DOJ 

A person might take a regulatory route by filing a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Civil Rights. A DOJ complaint removes the individual from the battle but places the business in a regulatory dispute. 

The business might have to pay fines in addition to being forced to comply with the laws. Not to mention this is a public record of discrimination.  

Take a Legal Route 

A legal route is also an option a person with a disability can take with two pathways. 

The first route is a process called structured negotiation. This process circumvents the court system, and the legal team works to structure a win-win for the client and business. With structured negotiation, an audit of the company’s ADA compliance is likely the first step. Then, recommendations are made based on the laws. There may or may not be a monetary settlement, and the business agrees to pay legal fees. The gain is being able to meet the needs of all clients and potential clients with equality. Another positive is avoiding the bad press and the cost of litigation. 

The other legal route is filing a lawsuit. Most people are not going to file a lawsuit, but the ones who do are winning. Take a look at the Robles VS Dominos Pizza case. The supreme court weighs in on the “right to sue” and rules in favor of the person with disabilities. The ruling creates a solid case law for access to digital platforms being the intention of the ADA. 

Being in ADA compliance is not nearly as costly as not complying. Also, businesses in compliance are champions for equality. Be a champion today and make the world a more readable place.

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This post was written by Christine Sket

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