Because more and more individuals with mobility, hearing, vision, or communication issues are participating in the online community and e-commerce, developing and maintaining websites and mobile applications that are accessible to these individuals is critical, not only to ensure legal compliance but also to attract a greater and more diverse customer, client, or user base. Nevertheless, companies are finding themselves in a precarious position, as they attempt to balance the expense of making their websites and apps more accessible and the myriad other regulatory and legal requirements with which they must comply.
Unfortunately, the website accessibility environment has witnessed a huge increase in federal lawsuits by plaintiffs alleging that websites are not accessible to individuals with disabilities, as well as greater scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and other regulators that enforce website accessibility under Titles II (applicable to government agencies and contractors) and III (applicable to “places of public accommodation”) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, it is imperative that any company with a website or app understand the need for ADA compliance to avoid becoming the target of potential litigation or a government investigation.
Epstein Becker Green’s ADA and Public Accommodations Group helps clients minimize their risk of liability. Our team consists of lawyers who have an extensive knowledge of the laws and requirements impacting website accessibility. We provide flexible, full-service capabilities, which include the following:
We handle multifaceted audits in-house to determine the accessibility of client websites and mobile apps from the perspectives of both the user and the programmer. Our comprehensive review uses criteria set forth in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These guidelines have been acknowledged by settlement agreements entered into by the DOJ as defining the appropriate level of website accessibility. In addition, we tailor our audits to fit a client’s website and mobile app designs and areas of concern, prepare detailed evaluation reports that clearly set out which website and/or mobile app features might be lacking and ways to implement required fixes and updates, and provide ongoing counseling to ensure continued compliance. Our evaluation reports and counseling are kept confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Epstein Becker Green also offers clients a broad range of services that include:
- Providing advice on the design of websites and mobile apps
- Advising on website accessibility issues that employers encounter from day to day
- Counseling and providing strategic planning regarding website accessibility issues involving the adoption of new technologies
- Creating accessibility policies regarding website and mobile app content
- Conducting on-site training programs on accessibility for a client’s employees who develop codes, programs, or publish content to the client’s website or mobile apps
- Assisting a client in the preparation of a request for proposal (RFP) for website or mobile app design services
- Reviewing pitches and proposals from third-party website vendors submitted to the client
- Conducting interviews and performing due diligence on potential third-party website vendors to ensure their proposed website will fulfill the needs of the client and be legally compliant, and assisting in the management of the chosen vendor(s)
- Providing representation in interactions on disability/accessibility-related issues with federal, state, and local government regulators as well as advocacy groups for individuals with disabilities
- Drafting and reviewing online, marketing, and informational materials for dissemination to the public regarding website accessibility
- Providing representation in litigation (brought by individual plaintiffs and as class actions) and investigations concerning disability discrimination and inaccessible websites and/or mobile apps