ADA Lawsuits are Increasing. Is Your Website Compliant?

The American Disabilities Act, passed by Congress in 1990, prohibits discrimination based on disability. Over the years, the ADA addressed physical accommodations—often in public places—such as ramps, elevators, and bathrooms. However, as technology advanced in the marketplace, the requirements were rarely applied to digital content and websites. In 2016, several lawsuits were filed in relation to website compliance with the ADA. Rulings were inconsistent, which only served to muddy the compliance waters further. Where judges saw uncertainty, lawyers saw opportunity.

A Crisis of Confusion

In an attempt to capitalize on the ADA ambiguity, attorneys across the United States began to file discrimination lawsuits at an alarming rate. While this may seem like a recent problem, statistics show that the trend has been building for some time. From 2005 to 2017, the total number of ADA case filings rose by a staggering 521%. And while that increase is worrisome on its own, there is further cause for concern due to the fact that there were more ADA-related lawsuits filed in the first half of 2018 than all of 2017 combined.

This uptick in legal action caught the attention of several lawmakers who expressed their concern to the Attorney General of the United States in a letter which stated, “Unless the Department acts, this trend will only continue and even more lawsuits and demand letters will follow.”

What are the hallmarks of an ADA compliant website?

According to the most recent updates to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, for a website to qualify as ADA compliant, it must be:

Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses)
User interface components and navigation must be operable. This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform).
Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable. This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)
Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)

What does this mean for your credit union?

As consumers demand online banking services, digital account management, and instant access to financial information, your credit union faces a choice. Should you try to save money up front by launching or maintaining a website that is not ADA compliant? This idea may seem sensible at first, but when you consider the outrageous costs associated with potential litigation, the risk hardly seems worth it. The best approach would be to work with a web design company that understands the nuances of ADA compliance and specializes in building compliant websites at a fair price. Investing in a compliant website up front can save you from staggering legal fees over the long run.

At Uncommn, we know what it takes to create a fully functional website that is not only ADA compliant, but also easy for your members to navigate. We work exclusively with credit unions and community banks, so we know how to develop creative, focused, cost-effective solutions that can take your website—and your business—to the next level.

For more information about our company or our website design services, please call us at (864) 908-9291 or visit us online at getuncommn.com.

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September 18, 2018