In a recent analysis of Web Accessibility lawsuits filed in New York in the last month, the UsableNet data and research team found new claims show more specific detail of the barriers encountered by blind plaintiffs using screen readers, as compared to the same type of claims filed in 2018.
New York ADA Web Cases
In a March 28th ruling in the Southern District of New York, Judge Preska dismissed the class action suit brought by a legally blind woman against Apple Inc for discrimination based on Website accessibility. In her ten-page ruling, Judge Preska dismissed the case based on a lack of detail in the filing that did not sufficiently plead an injury.
Since the Apple ADA ruling, the number of similar claims filed in New York slowed for a couple of weeks. This is likely due to the increased detail needed to establish injury. Last year, New York and Florida had the highest number of ADA-based Web lawsuit filings, according to Usablenet's own 2018 lawsuit recap report.
As of this week, claims filed in New York are back on pace with the 2018 rate of filings, with more than 20 in a single week.
The law firm used by the plaintiff in the Apple case, Cohen & Mizrahi was one of the top ten lawyers for these cases according to the same 2018 report. Since the ruling on March 28th, the firm stopped filing actions for a few weeks but are back again, we're seeing them actively filing claims on behalf of their plaintiffs.
Recent data indicates that the Apple ruling is unlikely to reduce the number of cases for 2019. Unfortunately, the majority of Web sites still have issues for screen reader users, as the 2019 study by WebAIM shows. A recent report suggested that businesses are unaware of accessibility issues with their websites. The number of lawsuits filed so far in 2019 tells us that there are an increasing number of individuals willing to bring their cases to the courts in order to gain equal access to Websites and mobile apps.
A Positive from a Negative
In one recent claim filed in New York, Fischler versus PetMeds, the plaintiff attorney provided specific details of user paths that could not be accessed and dates of attempts. This additional detail of when and how users with disabilities use a Website with assistive technology like screen readers should help companies make their websites accessible faster.
With specific details, defending companies can easily understand and quickly resolve the practical issues with their website or mobile app. Less remediation time means a lessened likelihood of potential of follow-on claims, more claims brought by other individual plaintiffs.
For companies that want help, experienced Accessibility partners like UsableNet offer services to make corporate websites accessible within weeks.
The new emphasis in ADA Web filings on the experience of a visually disabled person should help companies understand and better serve customers with disabilities.
If a company wants to strengthen their defense of ADA Web claims, build accessibility programs or mitigate legal risk, testing and maintenance plans that use screen reader testing or user testers from the disability community can provide the same specificity found in these new filings.