ADA is an acronym for the American Disabilities Act. The act was established in 1990, requiring businesses and other public spaces to provide accommodations for people with disabilities. All around the United States, and the world at large, you see things like wheelchair ramps and handicapped parking spaces—all those things have become a standard in today’s world, especially in public places.
At a point, it was also debated if the web was considered a public space, and it most certainly is, as with most courts are ruling in favor of the plaintiff regarding web compliance cases. Therefore, there are standards that companies must meet for people with disabilities to access and interact with their websites appropriately.
Many companies across the country in different industries are getting hit with lawsuits because their websites don’t meet the compliance standards. Before we go ahead and mention five companies that got sued for not having ADA compliant websites, let’s quickly talk about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 and 2.1).
WCAG 2.0 and 2.1: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were established to help guide website owners and developers to build websites with compliance in mind. You probably heard about WCAG 2.0. It was the latest acceptable set of guidelines to refer to when creating your website. In 2018, WCAG 2.1 was released. However, there’s very little difference between the two updates.
So, here are five companies that got sued for not having ADA compliant websites.
Beyoncé is a public figure. One of the most recognizable pop stars in the world. She’s known for many things, including music, fashion, and choreography. The lawsuit against her websites began with a class-action lawsuit filed by Mary Conor. Mary is visually challenged and could not access certain key features of Beyoncé’s website because it didn’t meet the WCAG 2.0 standards.
The elements in the lawsuit contained:
- No alt-text on images
- No keyboard access
- No accessible drop-down menus
- Lack of Prompting Information on Forms
Connor requested change to be made to the website to provide folks who are visually impaired full access to its features, as well as compensation for damages for the website’s discrimination towards the blind.
Winn-Dixie was sued because people with visual impairments couldn’t access the website with their screen reading software. Gil, the man who set the lawsuit, claimed that the website didn’t meet the WCAG 2.0 AA standards. Gil sued Winn-Dixie on July 12, and a two-day bench trial was held on June 5-6. The judge’s 13-page decision came in after a week. Judge Robert Scola of the Southern District of Florida decided that Winn-Dixie’s website was heavily integrated with the store’s physical location. This made it subject to the ADA. His decision required that Winn-Dixie had to update its website to meet the ADA act.
Blue Apron provides fresh ingredients and recipe delivery services for chefs to cook delicious meals at home and their restaurants. They also take care of menu planning and shopping, providing customers with fresh, locally sourced ingredients in pre-measured quantities.
The complainant, in this case, said that the Blue Apron website was not up to the standards demanded by the American Disabilities Act (WCAG 2.0), which restrict visually impaired people the ability to access certain features on their website.
Just like other cases mentioned above, Blue Apron didn’t have alt-tags, videos without caption that describes key elements of the products, services, and more. Blue Apron tried to have the case dismissed, but the court in New Hampshire denied the motion.
CVS came under fire in the U.S District Court for the Central District of California for failure to meet the ADA standards. In 2017, Kyla Reed slapped a lawsuit on one of the biggest convenience/pharmacy stores in the United States. Reed claimed that blind individuals could not access the key features on the website directly integrated with its physical location. The court dismissed Reed’s lawsuit, but in 2009, CVS faced a similar case.
The American subscription video-on-demand service, Hulu, provides movies and TV shows for their users. The complainant, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), which also happens to be the nation’s civil rights organization for folks with a hearing challenge, says that the deaf and hard-of-hearing population were not able to access content on Hulu’s website due to lack of captions. The ADA lawsuit resolved that Hulu provided an improved caption quality of its content and closed caption for all full-length English and Spanish video content.
Many other companies in the US got hit with a lawsuit, with the plaintiff getting compensated one way or another. Almost every business with an online presence is a potential victim of the ADA lawsuit. Therefore, you must make your website ADA compliant before you get hit with a lawsuit.