Preventing Litigation vs. ADA Compliance vs. WCAG Conformance: There’s a Difference

It’s important to differentiate making your website ADA compliant, preventing litigation and conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG.

So full conformance with WCAG and the present version is 2.1. So full conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA is the best practice for making your website what would be considered ADA compliant and also preventing litigation. However, making your website fully WCAG conformant, it’s going to take some time.

In most cases, it will take several weeks, if not months to make your website fully conformant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, so to prevent litigation. What you want to do is focus in on the issues that are most commonly claimed in litigation.

And if you do that, it is- you will significantly reduce your risk of litigation because we know what plaintiffs’ lawyers are looking for and if you can identify and fix those issues, and it’s much less likely that they would initiate litigation against your business or your organization.

Now ADA compliance- with ADA compliance, there is no- there’s nothing explicit in the law or regulations that state exactly how to make your website ADA compliant. The legal standard is currently meaningful access, which of course is ambiguous and can mean different things to different people.

And we don’t know when access is meaningful. We don’t know when we’ve reached that meaningful access standard. So again, the best practice is to be WCAG conformant. However, ADA compliance in practice really comes down to what plaintiffs’ lawyers are looking for.

Eventually, there will be a law or regulation that sets out exactly how to make a website ADA compliant. But in the meantime, The ADA is practically being enforced by plaintiffs’ lawyers that are in the space.

And so that’s what you have to realize it’s not going to be the Department of Justice that initiates a private enforcement action against your company or organization. That’s very unlikely- the DOJ is involved in website accessibility.

Every now and then, and they have- there have been a handful of private enforcement actions over the years. But it’s far more likely that your website would be targeted by a plaintiff’s lawyer.

And so that’s what you would want to focus in on is preventing that litigation. And then once you take care of those initial, those initial commonly claimed accessibility issues, then you would want to go back and make your website fully WCAG conformant and that way you can ensure that you are following best practices for ADA compliance, and that you would very likely- extremely likely be in compliance with any future law or regulation.