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September 7, 2023

Rob Thorpe Interviewed for Economist Article on Website Accessibility Lawsuits

Rob Thorpe, partner, was interviewed for the Economist article “An Explosion of Lawsuits Is Not Making Websites More Accessible” about lawsuits that aim to enforce the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which have seen a significant uptick in the past five years. Many people who file these claims are known as serial plaintiffs, and nearly all of these lawsuits settle before they reach trial.

The ADA only mandates “effective communication,” meaning the ADA itself provides businesses with little guidance on how to build compliant websites. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide minimum standards, although they haven’t been adopted by the ADA. Using overlays and plug-ins don’t preclude businesses from facing website accessibility lawsuits. In order to have accessible websites, businesses should audit their site, design fixes, and manually testing those fixes.

It is rather unclear whether these lawsuits contribute positively or negatively to progress. Rob provided two avenues for curbing these lawsuits:

  1. Requiring plaintiffs to issue notice, which would give the offending business the opportunity to fix the problem before it is sued
  2. specific requirements for ADA-compliant websites provided by the Department of Justice

Subscribers to the Economist can read the full article here.


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