In 2017, Juan Gil – a legally blind man from Florida – won his lawsuit against Winn-Dixie for website ADA compliance after a federal judge ruled the grocery and pharmacy chain failed to make its website content accessible to blind and visually impaired users, a direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The original website, which was built in 2015, cost Winn-Dixie approximately $7 million. As a result of this ruling, Winn-Dixie expects to spend another $250,000 to bring the website up to ADA compliance standards and pay Juan Gil’s legal fees.
What does this mean for the industry?
This ruling was a wake-up call to the online industry; while there have been many other cases like this one over the years, all of those were settled out of court. This was the first ruling of its kind.
In recent years, drag-and-drop website design functionalities have made DIY websites, or merely in-house content management, more achievable for small businesses and the technically minded. Rulings like this add a layer of complexity that requires expertise to protect businesses from website ADA compliance lawsuits.
What does this mean for my business?
If your business is open to the public and has a website, you should conduct a website ADA compliance audit immediately. A thorough audit will examine:
- Web accessibility
- Site design (ability to maneuver easily)
- Text (size and color)
- Video (captions and transcripts)
- Images (complete with meta data for browser readers)
- HTML formats
Once you have established where your website is strong and where it needs some work, develop an action plan to address the issues. Remember, no plan is complete without a timeline to provide key dates to track against.
How important is this, really?
Let’s go back to the lawsuit we mentioned in the introduction. Remember Winn-Dixie, the regional grocery store chain that spent $7 million on a website in 2015? It’ll be spending $250,000 more – and it won’t even be getting a new website. You could avoid a similar headache – and the associated legal fees – by prioritizing website ADA compliance within your organization.
Where do I go to get help?
Vela Agency’s digital team is prepared to help your business meet website ADA compliance standards. Not only can we help you present the case for compliance to your organization, but our experts can also assess your current website and build a plan to guide the project through to completion. Contact us today to get started.