The ADA mandates that public accommodations must be accessible to everyone, including websites. With internet commerce on the rise, advocates for the blind and hearing impaired argue that websites must be just as accessible as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. There is no formal government standard for private businesses to ensure their websites are ADA compliant. A group of web innovators have created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for businesses to implement to make their websites more accessible to the disabled. Further, the Trump Administration decided to stop drafting rules for website ADA compliance and it is widely cited as the reason for an increase in compliance suits.
For example, in just the first 6 months of 2018, there were nearly 5,000 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal court in the United States – a near 30% increase from the previous year. While advocates for the disabled find this uptick in lawsuits to be vital in achieving the necessary compliance with the ADA, critics have found these suits to be a ploy by lawyers and plaintiffs to pocket damages or hefty settlement agreements.
The suits have targeted businesses in nearly every sector from supermarkets to restaurants to fitness boutiques to universities. The most recent target of these suits is Art Galleries. In January, artnet reported more than 75 New York galleries have been sued claiming their websites are in violation of the ADA. As New York is a hub for the origination of these suits, it is likely this will continue throughout the art world and beyond and thus even more important to safeguard your website against such claims.