After You Receive an ADA Website Demand Letter, Next Steps

Receiving a demand letter alleging that your website is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be a daunting experience. Many business owners find themselves in this situation, so know that you’re not alone. It’s crucial to approach this with a calm and informed mindset and not react out of fear. Here’s a step-by-step guide to effectively address the situation.

Note: the recommended steps apply where the alleged violation is of the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, New York State Human Rights Law, or New York City Human Rights Law.

Step 1: Consult an Experienced Defense Attorney

The first and most important step is to seek legal advice tailored to your specific case. While you might find general advice online or examples of similar demand letters, your situation will have unique aspects that require professional attention. For instance, the law firm behind the letter or the plaintiff’s standing could significantly influence your legal strategy. Defense attorneys familiar with this field can navigate these nuances, providing guidance on how to proceed, whether it’s settling the matter out of court or preparing for potential litigation.

If you’re looking for recommendations, there are trusted attorneys and law firms specializing in this area.

Book a consulting session with Accessible.org and we can provide you with a list of defense attorneys we know have had success.

Step 2: Engage with a Reputable Accessibility Provider

The next step is to consult a reputable accessibility provider. This is crucial for reviewing the accessibility issues claimed in the demand letter. You need to understand whether these issues exist on your site and if they genuinely constitute a barrier to access. This analysis is not just about identifying problems but also about informing your legal defense. For example, an issue might be more about optimizing the site rather than it being fundamentally inaccessible.

Step 3: Avoid Quick Fixes like Accessibility Widgets

Many people, in a bid to quickly resolve the issue, turn to accessibility overlay widgets. However, these “solutions” are superficial and do not make your website ADA compliant. Avoid widgets, they’re a waste of money and do not make your website accessible or prevent lawsuits. Remember, genuine accessibility can’t result from an overlay.

Moreover, a trend emerging amongst more and more plaintiffs’ law firms is to target websites with an overlay widget installed.

Step 4: Audit and Remediate Your Website

The recommended course of action is to conduct a comprehensive audit of your website followed by remediation. This process helps identify all accessibility issues and fix them. Remediation can be complex, so it’s beneficial to engage a provider capable of both auditing and remediation. Once your website is compliant, ensure you get documentation of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) conformance. While WCAG conformance isn’t equivalent to ADA compliance, it’s considered best practice and a strong indicator of your commitment to accessibility.

Step 5: Maintain Accessibility and Train Your Team

Reaching accessibility is not a one-time task. It’s crucial to ensure your website remains accessible to avoid future litigation. Training your digital team on ADA compliance and WCAG guidelines is invaluable. Resources and courses available at ADACompliance.net can be instrumental in this regard. Training empowers your team to integrate accessibility into their regular processes, turning compliance into a sustainable practice rather than an ongoing challenge.

Step 6: Publish an Accessibility Statement

Finally, we recommend publishing an accessibility statement on your website. This can be done at any stage but is usually the last step. The statement demonstrates your commitment to accessibility.

Although not required, an accessibility statement is considered a best practice and not having one can work against you in some instances.

Conclusion

Working through ADA compliance after receiving a demand letter can be overwhelming, but with the right approach, it’s manageable. Remember to consult experienced professionals, audit and remediate your website, and maintain ongoing accessibility practices. For further assistance, contact us.

ADA compliance effectively not only addresses an immediate legal concern but ensures access to your entire audience, including those with disabilities.

Resources

Learn how Accessible.org can help you through expert consultation, information, and services.

Training specific to website accessibility and ADA Compliance is available at ADACompliance.net.

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