ADA Lawsuits in the Last Five Years: Trends and Take-Aways
The need for digital accessibility is increasing just as the ADA lawsuits against inaccessible web sites and apps are increasing at an alarming pace. The recent article published by UsableNet titled Five years of ADA web and app lawsuits – key observations and trends confirms this fact without doubt.
In this article, we will discuss our reflections on the key trends and observations since 2018 and our take-aways.
The Number Story
ADA law suits against web sites and apps must be understood with the numbers in each year. But before that, did you know that the increase of lawsuits from 2017 to 2018 is 181%?
Now, here are the numbers:
- 2018 – 2314 Cases
- 2019 – 2890 Cases
- 2020 – 3503 Cases
- 2021 – 4011 Cases
- 2022 – An estimated number of 4061 cases.
Did you know?
The counted claims in the last 5 years is 16,000 which is a significant number. We also have to keep in mind that all these stats do not have the number of demand letters sent to businesses by the plaintive law firms and other off-court settlements.
The Number Count by States and Industries
Tracking the lawsuits by states and industries have yielded some interesting observations: Here the numbers first:
|Month / Year||California||New York||Florida|
|Dec 2022 (Estimated)||58||194||28|
Among all the industries, it is the e-Commerce that tops the chart with 77%. The lowest is shared by many industries like automotive. But note that the trend is changing ever so, during the pandemic years in particular. It is the health care industry which piled up good number of cases as many visited health care sites during pandemic times and found them inaccessible.
Why is this Number?
While it is true that so many web sites and apps are inaccessible and pose a real-time problem for people with disabilities, there are other reasons too that constitute the trend.
It is the Department of Justice (DOJ) that always proclaims that web sites and apps are covered by ADA. On the other hand, even after many years, there is no guidelines or standards from DOJ as to what makes a web site or an app truly accessible.
Another reason is that there are a few plaintiffs who file a large number of cases. While many are real-time lawsuits some could be potentially deemed as ‘for the sake cases’.
In these five years, some of the big companies like Dominos have been sued and they have lost in the court. They have fought tooth and nail to prove that their web sites and apps are not covered by ADA. Whatever their claims are, the truth remains that their web sites and apps were inaccessible.
To solve these challenges, companies should follow the ‘Shift left approach’ and include accessibility since the inception of their digital business assets. They must realize that ‘Accessibility is a human right’ as Apple puts it.
On the other hand, DOJ must come forward to publish the standards for web sites and apps. That would reclaim ADA’s coverage and make the claims much stronger. Another best hope is the new bill known as
The Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act (S. 4998) . We keep our fingers crossed till the bill gets passed in both the houses so that organizations and business take digital accessibility a bit more seriously.
Accessibility is not doing things easy but the doing right things right! Unless the business community wakes up to this fact, we will see more number of ADA lawsuits in the years to come. At the least, let’s hope that this enforcement makes the things right.