In February 2015, we wrote a blog post that discussed the lawsuit Harvard and M.I.T. faced for not having accessible online courses. Both universities were warned by the National Association of the Deaf to provide online captioning, but neither complied. This lawsuit is not an isolated incident. The rise of lawsuits has been significant over the past few years where organizations are ignoring an accessibility strategy, damaging their reputation, and facing federal charges.
According to Law 360’s Expert Analysis segment on ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits, last year there were over 240 lawsuits filed against companies in the retail, hospitality, financial services, and several other sectors who violated the ADA act and failed to make web content accessible for those with visual disabilities. The SSB BART Group’s also published their research – accessibility lawsuits increased over 37% in 2016 from 2015 and are continuing to rise.
Organizations across all sectors are facing these charges and are at risk of being sued if they do not have an accessibility strategy in place. Not only can an organization be at risk for a lawsuit, ignoring the +48 million people who are deaf or hard of hearing and the half a million people in Canada who suffer from vision loss – is both counterproductive and an unwise decision from a business standpoint.
What Can Your Organization Do Now?
We attended CSUN 2017 and one of the most widely talked about topics was the fact that many organizations are trying to develop an accessibility strategy in-house. The problem with this is that most companies do not have the internal resources to be able to handle the complexity of developing a strategy and are making material errors putting them at risk to face a lawsuit.
There are online tools that can help assess your basic need for an accessibility strategy. We have a PDF upload function, for example, that assesses whether a PDF is accessible. Organizations need to be proactive in developing a strategy by starting to plan for future accessibility legislations coming down the pipe. Developing a strategy internally can be an overwhelming and difficult road. Working with a third party that specializes in accessibility can save your organization time, money, and headaches!
*Accessibil-IT specializes in helping organizations develop document accessibility strategies. We work collaboratively, cost effectively, and in a timely manner to make sure your pdf documents are accessible. Contact us to learn how we can help you.