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    Supreme Court Petition Cites UsableNet Research

    by Usablenet

    Business groups are petitioning the Supreme Court to weigh-in on ADA Website Compliance with Robles v Domino's. They are asking for the court to review the current lower court ruling that makes websites and apps subject to the ADA. 

    the Supreme court & ADA WEbsite Compliance

    A case brief with UsableNet data was one of several filed by Pro-business and right-leaning public interest groups with the court. The research was originally compiled as part of UsableNet's 2018 ADA Web Accessibility Lawsuit Recap Report. We've included an excerpt below or you cread a Reuter's article explaining more about the petition here.

    The lack of guidance has left businesses and other regulated entities uncertain about whether or how the ADA applies to websites. But where some see uncertainty, others see opportunity.

    Even before DOJ withdrew its advance notice of proposed rule-making, the number of lawsuits claiming that companies’ websites violated the ADA was already growing steadily. Plaintiffs filed at least 814 such suits in federal court in 2017, itself more than in any prior year. And DOJ’s withdrawal, in December 2017, sparked an explosion of new litigation. In 2018, Title III suits concerning website accessibility nearly tripled—to 2,258. And that was hardly a temporary blip: through the first half of 2019 such litigation is on track to match or exceed 2018’s record-setting level.

    A spike in litigation sometimes can at least provide greater guidance through the resulting judicial opinions. Here, though, two factors have worked against such clarity. The first is that plaintiffs’ firms have employed an aggressive sue- and-settle strategy, using the threat of fee-shifting under the ADA to force companies to forego fact- heavy trials in favor of fast monetary payouts. More than 93 percent of website accessibility cases filed in 2018 have already settled—and of the cases filed in 2019, fully 55 percent settled within 60 days. See Taylor, supra, Midyear ADA Web & App Accessibility Lawsuit Report. Without judicial decisions against which to measure ongoing compliance, those settlements have increasingly led to a rinse-and- repeat pattern in which settling one such case just leads to another. Nearly a third of the retail companies sued since July 2017, for example, have faced multiple website accessibility suits. 

    Our TakE

    Like many others, UsableNet is watching and waiting to see if the Supreme Court decides to hear what could be landmark case for ADA Website compliance.

    While the ADA was passed in 1990 when the Internet was still in its infancy;  it’s core principle of equal access should apply to Web and mobile apps today. This is evident when one considers the importance that these technologies now play in the everyday lives of most people.

    News coverage of the surge in lawsuits in from 2017 to 2018 has raised awareness of website and mobile app accessibility. The prevalence of ADA-based Website lawsuits has pushed thousands of websites to become more accessible and usable for people with disabilities. Without the lawsuits, it is difficult to know if inclusion would have kept up to the pace of technology as it has. But even with media coverage and pressure from plaintiffs, significant barriers still exist for the more than 1 billion individuals with disabilities. We hope the attention for this case will prompt more companies to consider the needs of the disability community and improve the accessibility of their digital content. 

    For more UsableNet resources on ADA Website lawsuit trends, view our original 2018 lawsuit recap report or download the 2019 Midyear Web & App Accessibility Update here. 

    Web Accessibility ADA Website Compliance

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