The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) lays out universally accepted web design and build goals to be followed by business enterprises worldwide. This supreme authority laid out Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make website content accessible to people with disabilities and different needs.
It has been the standard for digital accessibility worldwide for about two decades, without prejudice to any technology or industry.
The guidelines serve as a note for web designers to follow while creating websites. It helps them ensure they create websites accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities, including visual, speech, physical, cognitive, and neurological.
The W3C continuously updates its accessibility guidelines and has just finalized the most recent recommendation, WCAG 2.2.
What are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 defines how web content can be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Though the guidelines cover multiple issues, they do not address all disability types, combinations, and degrees.
The guidelines also improve usability for ordinary people like senior citizens who experience changing abilities and people with tremoring hands who find fine motor movement difficult.
The accessibility guidelines working group comprises a note from individuals and organizations from all over the world developing guidelines to provide web content accessibility for individuals, governments, and organizations worldwide.
WCAG 2.2 guidelines apply to multiple new and future web technologies and are testable by humans and automated testing. Web accessibility here depends not only on content but also on other factors like accessible web browsers and authoring tools.
What were the challenges W3C faced while defining WCAG?
The W3C faced significant challenges while defining the additional criteria for addressing people with cognitive, language, and learning disabilities. Examples of challenges faced were a short development timeline, international considerations, implementation ability of proposals, and difficulties in reaching a consensus on its testability.
WCAG 2.2 release date
W3C has postponed the official release of WCAG 2.2 from 2020 to the summer of 2021. However, there is a working draft available with a clear outline of the upcoming changes.
It gives developers and managers time to make more accessible web pages based on 2.0 and 2.1 updates.
The present WCAG 2.2 checklist has nine new success criteria, with more updates than previous versions. The success criteria are written more as testable statements than technology-specific ones. They focus more on extending requirements for users suffering from limited fine motor skills, low vision, and cognitive impairments.
Why is WCAG constantly updated?
The WCAG is constantly updated to keep pace with emerging technologies thanks to the rise in mobile, touch interface, and hybrid interfaces. Most importantly, there have been massive changes in the way we interact with digital content since 2008.
The content accessibility guidelines WCAG ensure everyone can access digital content. Currently, the W3C continues to update its guidelines to make them accessible to people with disabilities.
Web developers must create optimized websites for mobile users who suffer from physical mobility issues. Websites that conform with WCAG ensure optimal usability and maximize user access by providing for disabilities on mobile devices.
What’s new in WCAG 2.2
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is undergoing a major update from version 2.1 to 2.2. The new WCAG will adopt 9 new success criteria to guide product owners, managers, designers, developers, and content creators to optimize websites accessible to the disabled and everyday people.
Comparison note between the previous WCAG versions
The main difference between the different WCAG versions lies in the number of new success criteria.
- WCAG 2.0 has 38 success criteria
- WCAG 2.1 has 50 (38 + 12 new success criteria)
- WCAG 2.2 will have 59 (50 + 9 new success criteria)
WCAG Benefits For All Users
WCAG guidelines promote web accessibility on the internet for disabled people and a wide range of other users. It is because each person has their own preferences and ways to consume content on websites.
For example, a person without disabilities accompanied by a sleeping baby might opt to watch a video with captions or without sound. Sometimes a homemaker may prefer listening to an audio version of recipes while cooking instead of reading text.
WCAG accordingly provides a comprehensive guideline for students, government agencies, web developers, content creators, and more on creating online content accessible for both the disabled and the non-disabled.
The top 7 facts about the WCAG 2.2 accessibility guidelines you must know!
The Web Consortium and its partners have to define goals for defining web accessibility through site design and development. These will apply everywhere and will cover websites for all business entities.
The W3C has been updating the web accessibility guidelines and published the most recent 2.2 version, and here are some facts about it:
WCAG 2.2 is a working draft, not a final version.
As June 2021 was the anticipated release date for the WCAG 2.2, it is still in draft note state. The W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group seeks feedback and note on their website through GitHub until June 11, 2021.
The final version of this note will receive updates before publicly releasing the WCAG 2.2 by June 2021.
The content accessibility guidelines WCAG 2.2 was supposed to become a recommendation in November 2020 but was pushed to 2021. But once it becomes an official note and regulators pick up the update, it will also become a legal requirement in various countries from 2021 onwards.
WCAG 2.2 is built on WCAG 2.1
WCAG 2.2 is rooted in WCAG 2.1, just as WCAG 2.0 built WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
It’s because the WCAG 2.2 series of guidelines is backward compatible, where the current guidelines include adding a new note to the existing directives. With most enterprises aiming for A and AA levels of conformance, any changes rolled out will not affect them much.
So if your organization’s website meets WCAG 2.1 guidelines, you may not be impacted much by the new policies.
However, it does not apply to websites that meet earlier version guidelines like 2.0.
The new WCAG may have 9 new success criteria.
According to the current draft note, WCAG 2.2 shows 9 new success criteria:
- Four at Level A with Focus Visible Enhanced
- Four at Level AA
- One at Level AAA
These new success criteria help people with low vision, motor and cognitive & learning disabilities, and users with disabilities with web accessibility on mobile devices. But as the success criteria are still in the active development stage, there is no guarantee that all of them will make it to the final recommendation.
According to the current editor’s draft, these are the WCAG 2.2 new nine success criteria:
- Accessible Authentication
- Findable Help
- Fixed Reference Points
- Redundant Entry
- Dragging movements
- Focus Appearance (Minimum)
- Visible Controls
- Pointer Target Spacing
Focus Appearance (Enhanced)
There is the chance of some of the new success criteria moving in between levels. However, as most enterprises conform with Level A AA, any changes in the note will not impact business requirements much.
There may not be a WCAG 2.3
There will not be a WCAG 2.3 note.
Instead, a future accessibility guideline, WCAG 3.0, may become a significantly successful version of WCAG guidelines. The WCAG 3.0 is not its official name, and it will not be backward compatible. It’s, however, contemplated that the first working draft will be released soon, and the final version release date will be around November 2023.
Supporting documents to be released soon
A core group is working hard on building techniques that may go into the document. They lay particular emphasis on creating appropriate procedures for all WCAG 2 series guideline failures in the new success criteria.
The techniques will be made available through supporting documents. And these additional supporting documents will help in understanding web content accessibility guidelines 2.2 better.
WCAG adoption to the existing regulations isn’t clear
The U.S. Government hasn’t revealed any information about the adoption of details into Section 508
While some US enterprises, organizations, higher educational institutions, and states have adopted WCAG 2 .1, many are still on 2.0. So while some may implement the latest standards, others may hold back.
Accessibility advocates will refer to the WCAG 2.2 guidelines for litigation and settlement agreements only after the second half of 2021.
The W3C standards body that created EU standard EN 301 549 will consider adding WCAG 2.2 success criteria in the EU standard. But there are no confirmed details yet, and it may take a few months.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) is to take a more proactive stance on digital web accessibility.
Why is WCAG compliance important?
Any business or person needing an inclusive webspace should ensure their business and digital source be ADA web compliant and accessible to everyone. And to do this, you need to track WCAG updates, which are essential for designing digital content.
With WCAG compliance, you end up with a user-friendly web presence that reaches out to even new demographics. WCAG compliance also helps avoid litigation while improving SEO.
Who does each success criterion support?
Each new success criterion of the WCAG 2 .2 improves digital accessibility. The guidelines are more inclusive to people with disabilities like users with low vision, blindness, hearing loss, deafness, restricted movements, photosensitivity, speech disabilities, and its combinations. Some guidelines also accommodate users with cognitive limitations and learning disabilities.
WCAG 2.2 Checklist
The web content accessibility guidelines focus on web accessibility, considering all aspects of your website. As there are so many new success criteria to be taken into consideration, the WCAG has a checklist.
The WCAG 2.2 checklist allows you to assess the progress made in creating web accessibility websites for persons with disabilities.
While the success criteria have changed, the conformance levels A, AA, and AAA remain as in the preceding versions WCAG 1.0 and 2.0.
According to the W3C recommendation, focus appearance factors are critical user interface components for academic and learning environments. With these two success criteria, users with low vision navigating a web page using a keyboard have a clearly visible ‘focus indicator’ like a clearly visible cursor on the page.
This is in addition to the existing 2.4.7 visible focus requirement, which defines the focus indicator minimum size and contrast. While the level AA variant has a color contrast ratio of at least 3:1, the level AAA ratio increases to 4.5:1.
The success criterion offers an obvious benefit.
It offers a cleaner user interface for screen readers and any web content displayed on the publication’s default version.
(Level AA) 2.4.11 Focus appearance (Minimum)
The 2.4.11 focus appearance minimum level AA success criterion ensures the keyboard focus indicators of user interface components like forms, links, and menus have a clear border. The keyboard focus indicators should not be obscured by other content and have a 3:1 color contrast ratio against the unfocused state and all adjacent colors.
They are helpful for people having attention or cognitive disabilities and for individuals who use only a keyboard and not a mouse for navigation.
(Level AAA) 2.4.12 Focus appearance (Enhanced)
To pass the 2.4.12 focus appearance enhanced success criterion, a part of the focus indicator requires a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 against the unfocused and all focused states. The contrasting area should also be at least double the space of the unfocused area’s 1 CSS pixels perimeter.
Other requirements should be the same as 2.4.11, where no part of the focus indicator should remain hidden by author-created content.
(Level A) 2.4.13 Fixed reference points
According to the W3C recommendation, the fixed reference points success criterion is specific to EPUB and other similar electronic publications. It requires that web content containing page break locators provide users with a way to navigate each locator using the help of assistive technologies.
The fixed reference points success criterion requires that all page numbering and other page break location sensors are correctly accessible and should remain in the same place while the user adjusts the page display style.
This helps individuals identify where pages start and end, even if the web pages have different sections, are printed, and even when the publication’s platform changes.
For example, in the case of books converted to digital format, users have to head to a specific page to find the required content.
Some formats, like PDF documents, generally meet this fixed reference point requirement or are automatically paginated. In this case, the user quickly scans from one page to another without any additional navigation mechanisms. But PDFs do have other accessibility issues that you may need to address.
(Level AA) 2.5.7 Dragging movements
Functionalities like adjusting sliders and drag-and-drop actions involving dragging movements using a pointer like a cursor, finger, or touch screen may be challenging for people with motor disabilities. This level AA success criterion requires that any drag and drop movement necessary for operations be achievable using a single pointer. There should preferably not be any dragging involved unless it is an essential part of the function.
The drag and drop movement is a relatively precise motion where the user has to keep their finger on the switch/screen continuously. This action can be challenging for people who lack motor skills. This new success criterion ensures that drag and drop shouldn’t be the only option for performing specific tasks.
According to the new WCAG 2.2 level AA guidelines, web admins should provide these users with an alternative method to maintain accurate contact. Web designers will have to create an interface using more accessible, and natural keyboard controls like keyboard-only navigation, speech-controlled mouse emulators, and similar technologies.
(Level AA) 2.5.8 Pointer Target Size
Activating a small button like links on a touch screen can get challenging for users with cognitive disabilities. The level AA pointer target spacing success criterion sets a minimum hit area of at least 44 x 44 CSS pixels between two interactive elements.
It makes it easier for users to select the target using a pointer like clicking with a cursor and a touch screen. It also avoids the risk of unnecessarily activating wrong elements or controls.
So, for example, websites with multiple buttons should have buttons large enough for a user to click or activate without accidentally clicking on any other nearby element on the web page.
SC 2.5.8 is also applicable while using a mouse or any other similar pointer device. People with motor disabilities may also find using a mouse for manipulating objects challenging. The level AA success criterion enhances the 2.5.5 target size, added in WCAG 2.1 at level AAA.
There are, however, three exceptions to the pointer target size success criterion. It isn’t applicable if:
- There is a user interface component like a button to change sizes and spacing to meet the minimum
- The webmaster places the target inline in a sentence
- The required spacing for information conveyed isn’t a minimum target size.
(Level A) 3.2.6 Findable help
This level A findable help success criterion makes it easier for users looking for any type of information like FAQs, Contact Us page, chatbots, help centers, messaging applications, or other support options. According to this criterion, users should easily find help on a web page.
Your site will pass SC 3.2.6 if it provides all associated information or link for help options in the same place on every page. It makes it easier for people to seek help.
Your site can also provide human contact details, a self-help option, fully automated contact mechanisms, or a human contact mechanism like an accessible onsite chat.
Even websites with contact pages can pass this guideline — provided that visitors can easily access the page from anywhere on the site. It, however, is better to think carefully while planning your helpful resources.
Some options like onsite chat may be inconvenient for specific individuals.
(Level AA) 3.2.7 Hidden controls
Some designers use hidden controls to reduce the visual clutter on a web page. However, buttons are usually elements a user will need to submit a form, site navigation, or perform other interactions.
Level AA SC 3.2.7 hidden controls suggest the clear display of all buttons or controls with user focus for quick and clear understanding and performance of all tasks. The buttons should also not require actions like a pointer hover or keyboard focus to remain visible.
Some individuals may not be able to complete the specified task if the website has hidden controls. People with difficulties may not find the control, thus creating barriers to alternative input methods.
(Level A) 3.3.7 Accessible Authentication
Sometimes logging into a page or website may be a challenge to the user because they forget their authentication details. They may forget passwords, and the authentication process may involve a cognitive function test.
The user will have to remember, manipulate or transcribe information like CAPTCHA or answer logic puzzles or math equations as part of the test.
Websites can pass this accessible authentication criterion by providing at least one alternative way to log in, without the need for any cognitive tests, like two-factor authentication. Websites should also let users use their email addresses to reset their passwords or provide them with some assistance mechanisms to provide for website-accessible authentication.
Asking visitors to remember a password is a common type of cognitive function test. However, if the website allows entries from password manager browser extensions, it indicates a mechanism to enable users to complete the process.
(Level A) 3.3.8 Redundant entry level
Website visitors have to fill out many form requests inputs such as shipping and billing address more than once. Some website visitors may find completing so many forms stressful and a strain. This redundant entry-level guideline requires that websites allow users to select any previously entered information while filling out forms.
For example, if a user has to enter their address more than once in a website’s form, the second field should either auto-fill the address or let the user select their previously entered address.
This reduces the amount of effort needed to complete processes. “Redundant Entry” is a Level A criterion.
The only exceptions where forms may remain empty on new tries are those requiring security verification, like abandoned forms and forms confirming passwords.
Why the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Change
The web content accessibility guidelines are regularly updated to conform with technological advancements and changes over time. The new WCAG 2.2 release date was initially scheduled for release in November 2020, but W3C revised the date to June 2021.
The three-level of conformance: Levels A, AA, and AAA organize the WCAG 2.2 success criteria.
WCAG 2.2 Conformance Levels
The WCAG 2.2 follows the same three conformance levels as preceding versions: Beginner Level A, AA (Intermediate), and AAA (Advanced).
The best way to start conformance is at conformance level A and then move to level AA. Conformance with level AAA will next be much more manageable.
Level A is the lowest and easiest level of conformance to achieve. The first conformance level of web accessibility addresses the essential issues, making websites broadly accessible. It requires that web admins:
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content
- Provide captions for audio videos
- Provide audio description or text transcript for videos having sound
- Present web content in an orderly manner
- Do not automatically play audio when a component receives focus.
- Enable keyboard accessibility without any fixed timings
- Let people use the keyboard to navigate to and from all contents.
- Provide user controls for actions like pausing, stopping, auto-updating content
- Assign a language to each page
- Do not provide instructions depending on the shape, size, or visual location like “click on the round button to continue.” These instructions restrict the users’ sensory characteristics.
- Use clear and helpful pages.
- Determine each interface component’s purpose from the link, button, etc
- Ensure elements do not change upon receiving focus or input
- Identify input errors
- Ensure all non-text content or images, image map hotspots, and form images buttons have empty alternative text.
- Ensure no content automatically moves, blinks, or goes away but let users pause, stop or hide them
- Ensure there are no significant code errors and provide clear instructions and elements built for accessibility
- Ensure visitors be able to change keyboard shortcuts using printable character keys to a non-printable key
Note: Like 2.1 standards, 2.2 requires that each form input has an associated text label, and each item has appropriate and equal alternative text according to the previous conformance levels.
Level AA is where things get a bit challenging with new features and the applied level A updates. The additional changes under the new version WCAG 2.2 require that the web admin:
- Include pre-recorded videos having sign language translations and extended audio descriptions
- Include pre-recorded videos having alternative options for live audio and text alternatives
- Maintain a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 between the background and text
- Ensure the purpose of all web page components is programmatically determinable
- Have clear audio-only content with minimal or no background noise
- Let users dismiss any input error using the Esc key without moving the pointer or keyboard focus.
- Have all multipoint or path-based gestures like dragging, pinching, and swiping for functionality performed with a single-point activation
- Do not use text images.
- Do not have a web page time limit.
- Have all pages keyboard focus enabled, where the keyboard controls all functionalities
- Explain all hard-to-pronounce words, strange words, and strange abbreviations
- Organize web content with headings and labels
- Restrict page content flashes to only thrice per second unless the flashes are significantly small and low contrast
- Provide warnings about any timeouts that may cause data loss
- Provide detailed help and instructions
- Reduce the possible risk of input errors
Level AAA is the highest and most challenging to achieve a conformance level. It isn’t used much as a recommendation as not all websites can have the resources to meet the level. It requires that web admins include everything in level AA in addition to:
- Maintaining a contrast ratio of at least 7:1 between text and background
- Ensuring all web page text elements have contrast
- Ensuring the link text clarifies the link’s purpose.
- Providing an alternative for live audio and pre-recorded videos
- Saving user data whenever users require re-authentication
- Informing visitors where they are on the website
- Using headings to organize web content
- Not changing website elements unless a user asks for it.
- All text blocks over a sentence have sufficient spacing and are not more than 80 characters wide.
According to WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1, no content or functionality should occur, and it is possible to avoid horizontal scrolling with content presented at a 320 CSS pixels width. The only exceptions are toolbars, tables, charts, and maps.
New WCAG 2.2 Operable Criteria
With the new WCAG 2.2 guidelines, disabilities on mobile devices will be a thing of the past. Each success criterion moves a step forward in increasing web accessibility.
The intent of WCAG standard 2.4.11 is to help people use the keyboard to navigate and see the current focal point in their navigation on their own. Examples that will help web admins pass this success criterion include creating a thick border around the element or significantly changing the background color.
Pointer target spacing success criterion between user interface components helps users struggling with hand tremors and having difficulty with fine motor movement clicking on intended elements and buttons.
Users with disabilities can quickly locate content based on web pages in printed and digital versions of the publication.
Users with limited motor abilities who find it challenging to perform basic hand gestures and navigate web pages using a single mouse can now use the keyboard for page navigation.
How are these guidelines organized?
WCAG’s directives include the following conformance categories Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. The webmaster decides which success criteria to implement by asking a few questions:
- What are the best practices of the site?
- Does the website have to work with multiple devices and browsers?
- Does the website need all the features and components?
Web admins can accordingly implement the necessary success criterion.
For example, they may use video or audio as text alternatives.
In the case of automatic detection of input errors, the website identifies and describes the erroneous element to the user in the text.
Users should be able to view the website across multiple platforms, browsers, and devices. Webmasters will accordingly adopt the best practices to support various operating systems and browser platforms.
Web admins use the help of web content accessibility guidelines to create a fully functioning website for a diversity of user groups.
Comparisons between different WCAGs
WCAG 2.2 vs. 2.1
The new WCAG 2.2 contains all the success criteria of the preceding versions, except for one changed level.
The WCAG standard 2.4.7 focus visible in Level AA in WCAG 2.1 is now in level A in WCAG 2.2.
WCAG 2.2 working draft contains additional success criteria that do not exist in the preceding WCAG 2.1 and other versions.
WCAG 2.0 vs. 2.2
All 2.0 success criteria exist in 2.1, and all 2.0 and 2.1 requirements will exist in 2.2. The wording (verbatim, word for word) of 2.0 and 2.1 success criteria will be the same in 2.2, in addition to nine additional guidelines.
List the penalties for ADA non-compliant websites
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) clearly specifies the organizations and institutions that need to comply. They include state and local government offices, banking institutions, hospitals, healthcare institutes, schools, universities, and educational institutions.
ADA non-compliant websites face severe fines reaching as high as $75,000 for first violations and up to $150,000 for subsequent offenses. Defendants in ADA suits also usually pay the plaintiff’s legal fees and web accessibility audit and remediation costs. The average price can be anywhere from hundreds of thousands to reach up to six figures.
Web admins also risk facing a potential lawsuit from a plaintiff with a disability claiming they do not have access to the website content. The plaintiff can be a potential eCommerce website customer, a student applying for a university online, or a disabled person filling out a job application online.
There are also high immaterial costs to bear on a business, such as added stress, cost of time and labor,, and reputational damage. There is always the risk of the plaintiff using social media to tarnish a business’s reputation. No company wants to be known as an establishment that doesn’t help make things easier for users with disabilities.
How can a website be non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Websites that are non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act can make the webmaster vulnerable to expensive lawsuits and lead to increased customer support costs. There are various mistakes and reasons for being non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Examples of some errors are:
- The website does not have assistive technologies to help disabled individuals navigate the web content clearly and logically. Not everyone can use a mouse or trackpad for navigation. They prefer using a keyboard, mouth sticks, screen readers, or single-switch input.
- Website images not having alt-text. This is necessary because while people cannot see them, screen readers depend on them.
- Using the wrong website colors and color combinations. Web designers often overlook the right choice of colors while building a website. Many people are color blind, with red-green being the most common color deficiency. Websites should have a high color contrast and use other elements like bold or underlined text instead of color for hyperlinks.
- Websites containing media elements that start playing even before the user prompts them. Not only is this irritating, but people using screen readers especially also find it challenging to figure out how to turn it off.
- Using links that do not have clear and descriptive names. For example, screen readers cannot read buttons with the poorly descriptive text “Click here.” Work using more specific descriptions like “Read About our offer” instead of “Read More.”
ADA-compliant sites must provide a host of other assistance and services that assist people with disabilities like lower vision loss and hearing impairments to access and use the site easily.
How will these changes benefit the user?
The new WCAG 2.2 changes will help the user in many ways. It makes websites more accessible to disabled users, improving the website’s usability and user experience. Users with mobile disabilities prefer doing business with websites and brands willing to take a stand on issues.
The revised changes will also help everyone, including normal people who prefer accessing devices with one hand, people exposed to shaking environments, and those with larger fingers who struggle to operate a gadget on their hands, easily access web content.
How does this affect my existing WCAG implementation?
Current rules and policies suggest that changes will move to WCAG level AA at least. If you have conducted the WCAG 2.0 Test before doing WCAG 2.1, it is better to perform WCAG 2.1 Test to check for WCAG 2.2 compliance.
The final WCAG 2.2 recommendations will be available by 2021 and will be backward compatible with the earlier versions of the WCAG 2.0 standard in the UK and AS EN. The new version of WCAG2.2 will be compatible with previous versions ensuring you have the most extensive level of accessibility compliance when the final recommendation of the latest version is released.
When will WCAG 2.2 be released?
WCAG 2.2 work draft is currently undergoing a broad review, and WCAG is presently reviewing all comments received. The timelines for publication remain uncertain as there is no final date of release.
WCAG 2.2 should become a recommendation around June 2021
W3C had earlier declared the WCAG 2.2 release date as November 2020 but later revised it to June 2021.
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The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.