ADA Digital Accessibility Lawsuits 2021: Our takeaway
With so many laws, accessibility guidelines, accessibility programs and accessibility driving organizations in the digital landscape, Has the state of accessibility improved? I will leave this question unanswered for now. However, the yearend report for 2021 on ADA digital accessibility published by UsableNet will throw some light on the state of digital accessibility till now in US alone.
The year 2021 has registered a total of 4055 lawsuits in US that include ADA lawsuits and lawsuits under Unruh Act in California with direct reference to ADA. This is a 15% increase when compared to the year 2020 which saw a total of 3503 cases.
Did you know?
In the year 2021, a rate of 10 ADA cases per day has been registered where the subject of claim is either website or mobile app or multimedia content.
In the year 2021, E-Commerce is the industry with highest number of cases scoring 74% while all the other industries are scoring 26%. Cross-industry companies have scored 5% of cases.
Did you know?
15% or 500 lawsuits were against companies that faced lawsuits in the previous years.
Companies with small revenues are the target too
The trend in 2021 ADA lawsuits shows that the companies with less than 50 Million revenue per year are being sued increasingly. The year 2020 showed 30% and 70% of cases respectively against above 50 million revenue companies and below 50 Million revenue companies. But 2021 shows 19% for >50 Million revenue companies and 81% for <50 million revenue companies.
It is difficult to ascertain whether this trend is a natural progression or due to the customers shifting to smaller companies in the pandemic driven world.
Other key factors
- 20% of the top 500 E-Commerce companies were sued in 2021 with 98 cases registered against them.
- 80% of the top 500 E-Commerce companies are facing lawsuits in the last four years.
- The key driver for this trend is the day to day evolving or changing content and the complex nature of E-Commerce industry.
- Other key factor is that the desktop web sites are the primary targets in ADA lawsuits. 94% of the cases were against desktop sites; 6% against video content; 4% against mobile apps and 2% against combined mobile and websites.
Rising importance on mobile app accessibility
The use of mobile apps is increasing year by year so as ADA lawsuits against them. Around 100 companies across industries were sued for inaccessible apps in the year 2021. Here too, it is the E-Retail industry is at the top with 25% of cases while digital media is at the second with 16% of cases.
Looking at the trends in the ADA lawsuits in 2021, one surely feels the digital accessibility has a long winding path ahead. With more and more smaller businesses occupying the digital space and customers choosing to shift gears towards small players, achieving 100% digital accessibility can be a mirage.
Also, the dominance of mobile app market with inaccessible apps is driving the inclusive growth far away from us. If this is the trend in a country like US where legal enforcements are very strong, we can’t imagine the state of accessibility in other growing economies.
On the other hand, bigger companies are seeing declining trend of ADA lawsuits. This is a breather to us, thanks to their accessibility programs and continuous monitoring efforts.
Learning from facts like past mistakes, from lawsuits, soaring legal expenses and settlements, industry players must not ignore accessibility anymore. Designers, content writers, developers, accessibility experts, policy makers, even content management system providers must chart a path that includes accessibility as a process rather than an afterthought. If such things happen across industries, we may see a smaller number of cases and more inclusive business experiences. We the readers who are involved in shaping up the digital accessibility must take up this challenge in whatever roles we play in our organizations. Lets’ do it instead of waiting!