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Inaccessability For Blind Individuals - Lawsuit Filed Against Our Website

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  • Inaccessability For Blind Individuals - Lawsuit Filed Against Our Website

    We just received a 13 page letter from a law firm who is claiming that they were retained to represent a blind individual to prosecute us for our website violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

    A little googling shows that there are a large number of these lawsuits being filed due to a lack of clarity in ADA rules. I was able to find some background about this here:

    Plaintiffs (and their opportunistic attorneys) have discovered a loophole in the ADA: whether a company’s website is in compliance with the law is just as much fair game for a lawsuit as their physical premises.

    A website has to be accessible. It must have clear and bright visuals that can be easily picked up by software that translates content for people with vision or hearing problems. Its videos should include subtitles for the hard of hearing. Its keyboard navigation options must be easy enough even for those who can’t use a mouse. Many companies don’t think of this when designing their sites and that exposes them to lawsuits.

    So what can a business do? According to the Los Angeles Times report, “a consortium of web innovators” has created some rules (otherwise known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) that are already followed by many governments for making websites more accessible to disabled people. These are just guidelines and there’s still room for judgment. But it’s a start.

    And yes, of course, there will be a cost. Updating a website can cost thousands of dollars which is not exactly spare change to many small businesses. But the cost of not doing so could be much greater. The law has been written to significantly favor the plaintiff and allows large payouts without giving businesses the chance to fix their sites. In California, which leads all other states in the number of ADA-related states filed, the minimum penalty a business must pay for each violation is $4,000 plus attorney’s fees.
    I have no way of telling how valid this lawsuit is.. I'm hesitant to call or email the firm on the letterhead without doing some research first. I've found quite a few articles about nefarious law firms who are shaking down small Mom & Pop businesses under the guise of disability rights and I've even found a single Google Review of the firm who contacted us:

    1-Star 3 months ago
    Terrible attorney. Works with scammers and embezzlers to steal your money!
    Has anyone else on the forums ever received a complaint like this or have experience/insight into how to navigate this type of situation? I'm absolutely open to correcting issues on our site that might put us outside of ADA compliance, but unfortunately there might be more at play here..
    Psydde Delicious
    Delicious Boutique & Corseterie
    Philadelphia, PA

  • first, run your site(s) through this checker

    (A quick glance shows that has some pretty easy errors that could be fixed.)

    Next, find the attorneys web that through a scan and if any errors (be there are :) ) sue them....(half joking).

    I am not a lawyer...heck, not even really a programmer but that's another story...but DO NOT CONTACT them before talking to lawyer. Yes, it might cost something, but better to play it safe. Typically, if they haven't already done so, they have to show how the person was 'barred' from using the site. Again, not a lawyer, but just because your site has errors, doesn't mean they couldn't use it. Heck, I can find errors on ANY web site that I could then claim 'prevented' from using it.

    Finally...start a GoFundMe page (sorry trying to keep your head off the keyboard).

    Bruce Golub
    Phosphor Media - "Your Success is our Business"

    Improve Your Customer Service | Get MORE Customers | Edit CSS/Javascript/HTML Easily | Make Your Site Faster | Get Indexed by Google | Free Modules | Follow Us on Facebook


    • I just did a demo yesterday with a company called They have a JavaScript based solution which can help here.
      Brennan Heyde
      VP Product
      Miva, Inc.
      [email protected]



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