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All of them had to face lawsuits, penalties, out-of-court settlements for section 508 non-compliance!

Let us elaborate!

In the United States alone, over 10,000 federal lawsuits for Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and Section 508 rehabilitation non-compliances are filed every year. But, unfortunately, many business owners are seldom aware of the penalties they need to pay and the legal consequences their enterprises can face, simply for being ADA and Section 508 non-compliant.

In the blog post, we will show you how many high-profile organizations lost millions of dollars in fines and lawsuits because they were not careful enough to be Section 508 compliant.

Non-compliance with Section 508 can lead to fines of up to USD 55,000 for the first violation and USD 110,000 for each subsequent violation. In addition, the laws allow for those who are receiving Federal funding to have it revoked have for being in noncompliance.

In 2015, two of the world’s most premier educational institutions were sued for ADA non-compliance. Despite offering a range of massive open online courses (MOOCs) freely to students across the globe, the institutions had to face trials and lawsuits for not providing accessibility encrypted content on the web. Their online course videos, training materials, and other audio files hosted on YouTube and internal websites did not have closed captioning, which resulted in inaccessibility for those who were hard of hearing. The five-year-long lawsuit filed by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) reached a settlement stage only in the years 2019 and 2020. These leading academic institutions now ensure all their online resources are fully compliant with the standards of section 508 rehabilitation and ADA regulations.

A leading news network were taken to court in February 2018 by Ms. Luc Burbon, a visually impaired individual from New York, for having a website that was discriminating towards the blind. Their website did not have the required accessibility components for screen reading software to pick up.

Screen readers modify website components to be consumed by the non-sighted and other disabled users.

As a result, those with visual impairments could not efficiently browse online news content, look up or watch live (and recent) broadcast shows, purchase advertised merchandise, or subscribe for relevant updates. Eventually, the New York state bench dismissed and settled the plea, providing all digital avenues of Fox News are modified to be fully ADA compliant.

A leading pizza brand was sued in 2016 by Mr.Guillermo Robles, a visually impaired customer, for not optimizing their website and mobile app to be a disabled-friendly one. As a result, Mr. Robles could not place his online orders on the the website with comparative ease and comfort of the sighted users. The menu items were not easily navigable. He could not personalize or customize his orders, and it was nearly impossible for him to take advantage of discount coupons available exclusively for online users. A three-judge panel from the District of Arizona declared that website and mobile apps are much like physical public accommodations. The jury mandated the company to be fully ADA compliant so that ‘all’ public users can enjoy the same ‘equal’ rights in purchasing goods and services offered by the merchandise.

In 2018, another leading fast food major faced a similar class-action lawsuit for not providing an accessible e-commerce platform. Ms. Maria Mendizabal, a visually challenged customer, claimed she “encountered multiple access barriers” that denied her ‘fair’ access to make online orders. As a result, the business was legally obligated to change its e-commerce avenues, websites, and mobile products, to be disabled-friendly and ADA compliant.

A high-profile OTT platform entertainment service provider was sued in 2012 for not complying with ADA standards. The Massachusetts court declared that “services that existed solely or mostly online were not exempt from ADA requirements.” The litigation reached settlement status with the company agreeing to pay the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) $750,000 in legal fees and promising to caption all their videos by 2014. In addition, the company was legally forced to convert all its digital offerings to an ADA-compliant one. Today, The company is now far more advanced and fully compliant with all aspects of Section 508 rules.

Some of the leading fashion retailers have faced legal lawsuits for their inaccessible digital merchandise experience.

In all these legal suits, federal courts across different states regularly re-iterated that websites are extensions of places of public accommodation. Monetary damages, preliminary or permanent injunctions, mutually agreeable settlements, and compliance to accessibility laws were the only options for these renowned retailers to bring the legal filings to closure.

Both in North America and Canada, business enterprises are fined between $50,000 to $100,000 per day. A few small and medium-sized enterprises have paid relatively lesser amounts, like $5000 per day. However, the nature of penalties levied is for every non-compliant day: the monetary losses can compound to cause heavy damages for the firm going through the legal trial. It will also bring down the brand value of the enterprise in the marketplace. Hence, business owners need to consider providing accessibility compliant features to their digital offerings- for it is the only sustainable way to avoid ADA or section 508 lawsuits.

If your business has been sued for ADA non-compliance, you may need to consider doing to following things immediately:

  1. Don’t take the legal notification lightly. Many business owners had to pay a considerable price later because they initially discounted the individual filings as a trivial one. If you have been issued a ‘notice,’ take it seriously. It is the only way your enterprise can save millions of dollars, time, and brand image, later. 
  2. Talk to a credible lawyer who can represent your business in federal court. The attorney must have a previous track record or competence in representing similar ADA lawsuits.
  3. Conduct an accessibility audit of your current business offerings. Your business can validate the legitimacy of the lawsuit filing only by conducting a technical audit and systematically testing the accessibility features of your digital resources. It would be best to call accessibility solution experts, like codemantra, to perform this preliminary audit for your business.
  4. Make your websites, mobile, and other online resources Section 508 and ADA compliant. There are three levels to Web Accessibility and compliance guidelines (A, AA, and AAA). At codemantra, we have a proven track record of helping many enterprises achieve AAA exception compliance standards. Our accessibility services have enabled organizations to foster ‘equality and inclusivity in their business offerings. We specialize in WCAG 2.0 standards and have a range of accessibility services that can transform your digital offerings to fully ADA compliant. 

Websites, Mobile applications, and other online resources are your digital properties. It is legally mandatory and virtuously worthy for them to be accessible for both regular and disabled alike.

In the coming years, the rules of the Accessibility and Disability Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 will only get even more stringent. Hence, business owners need to take preventive measures by ensuring their digital landscapes are wholly compliant with WCAG 2.0, ADA, and Section 508 standards.

As your accessibility partner, we at codemantra can transform your assets into digital assets that are equitable, inclusive & accessible. Your digital properties will meet the AA level standards of WCAG 2.0 compliance. Learn how we can help achieve that: email us at info@codemantra.com

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