by Audrey Ehrhardt, Esq., CBC, Practice42
ADA accessibility and compliance in law firm websites across the nation are becoming not only more relevant, but a necessity as we see an increasing amount of litigation against businesses over their websites. Website accessibility lawsuits center around the fact that all, or a portion of, the business website or app is inaccessible to the disabled. We are watching as the filing of website accessibility lawsuits rises dramatically. While in 2017, we only saw an increase in these types of lawsuits by 17%, in 2018 we have seen an increase by 181%.1
Most of us understand and have taken the steps we need to take in order to ensure our physical location is ADA friendly, but what about our law firm website? From parking spaces and clear, wide entryways to employee training on relay communication and braille friendly documents, our law practices are friendly to disabled persons. This holds true in many small firms, even when they are not required to be disability-friendly under Title I of the ADA.
It may surprise you to learn that ADA accessible and compliant website rules do not actually fall under Title 1 of the ADA. There is nothing in the current regulations about website accessibility. Instead, these lawsuits have been brought under Title III of the ADA, Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities, through case law. What you also need to know is that where you live may play a significant role in how your case is handled as there are conflicting opinions from different jurisdictions right now.
While ADA compliance in web centric technology is, in many ways, the next step in ensuring disabled persons have the same rights as nondisabled persons, much confusion remains. Critics also claim that these actions result in “‘legal extortion,’ now targeting small business owners who feel they are ‘sitting ducks’ for ADA lawsuits regarding their websites that are not accessible to some with disabilities.”2 In these strict liability cases, however, ignorance is not a defense to a lawsuit on this issue and it is best practice to gain as much information so you can create a plan to protect yourself and your firm both now and in the future.
Join Audrey Ehrhrardt, Esq., CBC, Practice42 Founder,
for an in-depth look at an issue that many attorneys
may not yet realize is important to consider.
• How do you protect yourself?
• What standards apply?
• Are the standards different as you consider a mobile user of your website versus a desktop user?
• Do estate planning and elder law attorneys have a more significant responsibility to their potential and actual clients than other practitioners?
Meet Audrey Ehrhardt, Esq., CBC
Audrey Ehrhardt, Esq., CBC, is the founder of Practice42, an innovative consulting firm and full suite marketing agency for C-Level Executives, creatives, and lawyers. Audrey has unique experience in building and running successful law practices and corporations nationwide. Her expertise gives her a unique perspective when working with clients of all shapes and sizes. Audrey is a national speaker on topics such as business strategy and processes, marketing with today’s technology, cyber security and the science of team building. Audrey lives in Florida with her husband, son and two dogs.
1ADA Lawsuits Are on the Rise, Website Complaints Biggest Targets. By: Victoria Hudgins. Link: https://www.law.com/legaltechnews/2019/01/24/ada-lawsuits-are-on-the-rise-website-complaints-biggest-targets/?slreturn=20190618085713
2Businesses ‘sitting ducks’ for lawsuits because websites aren’t ADA compliant. By: Shannon Behnken. Link: