< v Bethany > Good afternoon, < /v >. Thank you, everyone for taking time out of your schedule and joining us. My name is Bethany Sirven and I am the marketing director here at UsableNet. Our webinar today is ADA Website Lawsuits in 2020 Insights and Trends hosted by Jason Taylor Chief Innovation Strategist here at UsableNet. Usablenet is a technology company with 20 years of experience in digital accessibility.

Please note: the information contained in the webinar today is intended to supply general information to the public is not intended to constitute legal advice.
No specific case law will be covered during this presentation. Our legal partners, respected ADA lawyers, can cover and provide, a more detailed presentation on case law. And throughout the year we have guest presenters, who are ADA lawyers, to cover these topics during our webinars, so please stay tuned for upcoming webinar announcements, when will cover this. Today the information we’ve compiled and will present, is based on public data, is meant to help grow awareness of ADA website lawsuits, and of the accessibility challenges, that digital assets may present to customers, within the disability community.

Thank you again, everyone for joining today.
We encourage you to share your learnings and takeaways, from this webinar with others. But when sharing UsableNet research findings or insights, especially in articles on the web, we ask that you please reference UsableNet, and backlink to our 2019 ADA report. If you haven’t taken a look at that report yet, I can send out a link after this webinar, via email. Finally, before we begin, all attendees are muted.

If you have a question during the presentation, please send them via the chat box.
We have reserved 15 minutes at the end, for a live Q and A with Jason.

And if we don’t get to your question, or it’s too specific to your company and situation, someone will reach out to you. Finally, slides and related resources to download, will be sent via email this week. We are also recording today’s session.

We’ll get that video captioned and you will receive an email early next week with a link to that as well.
With that, I’m going to hand it over to my colleague, and our accessibility expert here, Jason Taylor. And again, thanks everybody for joining. At first I just wanna to take a quick look at the agenda, so you guys understand what we’re gonna maybe cover, and what you’re gonna get from this. First I’m gonna cover just looking at the trends, but delve down and try to give you some insights around where those trends are going in 2020, but also some detail about what’s really behind those trends.

We’re gonna talk a little bit about the Domino’s Effect last year and how that might have an effect this year.

Something that we’ve not done before, I wanted us to the breakdown a typical week in ADA lawsuit. So you get an idea of where these lawsuits come from. What’s involved in these lawsuits. What’s referenced in these lawsuits.

I think it’s revealing, especially helps companies think about how, what they should be doing to mitigate their legal risk, if they understand, what’s actually in lawsuits and how they’re structured in a typical week.

I’ve tried to put together some predictions in 2020 around accessibility, which in some way reflects the way lawsuits are going, but also reflects the way the industry’s going. And as Bethany said, let’s spend some time at the end to make sure I get any specific questions answered and discuss, any particular topics people have after this. And I wanted to start quickly with a polling question, is the only polling question I’m gonna ask, it gives me an idea of really sort of the types of people that are on this webinar. So I make sure that I tailor, that sort of color of the content to the audience.

So I just wanted to get, a quick understanding, of the types of roles that we have. We had over 500 people sign up for this webinar, but I know that accessibility really now affects lots of different areas of the company, but also internal and external resources. So I just wanted to get a feel for what that sort of makeup is in terms of the audience, so I made sure that the content I cover today is appropriate. And we’re just gonna run that for about 45 seconds.

And then we’ll also share the results, to see the sort of percentages.

So you should see that essentially, we’ve got ran about half the people on this webinar, internal resources, which are looking, to understand what sort of testing and remediation they should be doing around there just all content, a big section of internal external legal counsel. Because essentially, obviously, the ADA lawsuit to bring in those types of resources, in amongst the team that needs to focus on what they’re gonna do for accessibility.

So these are the typical sort of spread, that we will expect to see in such a webinar, but it’s difficult to see the two different types roles that are being affected in an organization. So let’s go through some of the big trends, 2019 in general. So, if we started the trend from the last four years, I think this is not new to anybody.

Essentially, we’ve got lots of lawsuits going on. I think it’s very important, for people to understand, the data that we present and I’ll give you a little bit of quick methodology of where this data comes from.

So we track all federally-filed ADA lawsuits, that means that we do not count state-filed lawsuits around ADA, or demand letters and both of those are on the rise. And the figures that we present, around federally-filed ADA web and app related is probably, half or less than half of the overall legal action, that is basically taking place in the market today. The reason we only track federally, is because they’re reasonably consistent.

So when we’re comparing from one state to another, it’s very consistent in terms of what we do. But also case law at federal level drives a lot of the resulting state and demand letters anyway. So that’s one important point. The other part of our methodology is, these are not just ADA-related cases.

We look at every ADA case, meaning there’s probably around about 10 to 12,000 ADA cases last year, we look at every single case, we determine whether it’s a web an app-related case, meaning that the website or the app, is the object that is being sued.

And we then track of those. So the data that we provide to you is very specific to digital lawsuits. So either websites that are being targeted, or referenced as the issue, or apps as being issue. We also track some other things, but we don’t include them in these trends. So these are big numbers, and they’ve been growing since 2016.

If we move to the next slide, Bethany, I think it’s always important, for companies to understand why they’re big, and why that big now, and I call it the DOJ Effect. I think it’s, important that we don’t forget that actually the Department of Justice way back in the year 2000, started to join private lawsuits, primarily from big advocacy groups, so the Federation for the blind, and other advocacy groups, which were targeting very specific types of lifestyle digital experiences, so for example, H and R Block, Bank of America, education.

And they were targeting, specific lawsuits to try to increase, the access to digital lifestyle and digital access. Now the DOJ through that time really built a set of case law, where they joined with the plaintiffs. And they made sure that the defendant company agreed to a settlement.

They helped define what those settlements included, what type of remediation was required, what types of yearly sort of testing should be done, what type of user testing the feasibility should be done.

So what we have to remember is that the DOJ has put down, over 15, 16 years a very clear case, that websites in their eyes are subject to the ADA. And in those settlement letters they’re essentially created, a blueprint for law firms to claim if you weren’t doing what the DOJ required of these other firms, you are in violation of the ADA. Because of probably more the political situation, the Trump administration came out in 2017, with primarily anti-business regulation, the Department of Justice stopped its efforts to stipulate exactly what requirements were needed under the ADA.

In the physical space you get to know exactly how wide a doorway needs to be, and you get to know exactly where the light switch needs to be.

But those requirements have never been added in the digital space to the ADA. That is left a void of, what is required by the ADA. It’s left an amount of uncertainty for businesses. So they’ve probably unprioritized the work, because they claim that they don’t know exactly what it is. But in generally what it’s opened up, is a void for the plaintiffs bar to essentially find plaintiffs that are having struggles, or difficulties with your websites and back that up with DOJ settlement to show that essentially this sort of blueprint happened.

So just to give you a background, that’s why there’s so many law cases in play. Because the DOJ established a benchmark over 16 years. And essentially, it’s very hard to argue away from that early on without spending lots of money. So, if we move to a couple of other trends that I’d like to talk about this is the big one, and I want people to understand why this exists.

So retail is over half of the types of companies, that get sued now.

Retail is an important economic engine, but it’s not, in the eyes of let’s say, someone who’s living a life, retail is not the most important thing in the world, you know, access to money, access to education, access to health care is probably more important. So this reflects the types of law firms, and the way that lawsuits are targeted. If I go to why is retail and food industry and others, so on the next slide, These are the factors the reason, why these are the most targeted. And we’re gonna get into this when we look at an average week.

Lawsuits aren’t organic.

They’re not someone who had a problem with a particular website, and then went and find a lawyer, and then created a lawsuit on that particular firm. There are some, but they’re on the minority, not the majority, the majority of lawsuits in this space, are plaintiffs and plaintiffs firms, that look to file 10 to 20 a week, which means that in a production environment, they’re given a list of sites to go and test, they are given a list of questionnaire, of the types of issues that they find on those sites. And then the law firms, pick the ones with the most amount of issues, and then sue those companies. So, retail is easy to visit, it’s easy to give a plaintiff or someone who’s disabled, that’s potentially working, in partnership with a plaintiff lawyer, a list of similar sites that they can go visit.

It’s also easy to do the same action.

So when you say to someone, go look at these 20 sites, try these two or three things. They’re the same two or three things across every retail site. So retail is a very easy to target. They’re very easy to what I class as productize, around the testing, productize around the documentation of issues. Most issues are very similar and most sites are very similar.

But also the DOJ has done settlement, with retailers over the years. So again, there’s “past cases”, which plaintiffs can point to, to say the DOJ established that. Also retailers, entertainment sites are complex. They’re a lot harder to comply directly with the WCAG 2.0, or 2.

1. and we’ll talk about 2.1. and it’s importance later. It’s a lot easier to find issues, it’s a lot easier to make mistakes, if you’ve got a complex site.

They’re also changing all the time. So retailers have a quicker release schedule, than let’s say an educational website.

So retailers are again, potentially probably making more mistakes, easier to find issues, again, better for lawyers. The other thing that we’re gonna talk about is, the fact that company gets sued from multiple times, because they have multiple websites and multiple apps. So retailers obviously, ideal for that sort of target, and lots of multiple brands and multiple apps, and we’re gonna talk about, multiple lawsuits and the trend of that.

And then one practical thing, that I think will come out over these trends is a lot of the plaintiffs law firms, have history in this space they used to sue in retail and food establishments. So they know that those organizations, know that the ADA exists. They have law, internal counsel, external counsel, that that have probably, defended ADA physical lawsuits in the past. So there’s common ground, they know that they’re going to get a reaction, that they know they’re going to open up a discussion, around what needs to be done around, a demand letter or around a lawsuit. And typically retailers the food establishment, you’re going to see that, you know, the targeting is not, you do hear of small firms getting targeted, but the vast majority are large companies, getting a target and They have money.

And essentially most of the plaintiff’s firms, in the majority are looking for settlement fees, of their fee. So they’re obviously looking for someone, who actually has a budget. So if we look over a couple of the other trends that we saw in 2019 develop, this a really important one. And I think we’re gonna emphasize even more when we look at an average week. But of all the lawsuits last year, 21% were actually someone being sued for the second time.

Now why did they get sued for the second time There’s a few reasons.

One may be that, they haven’t completed the work, from the first time they got sued. So that’s a very important aspect. When someone is sued under the ADA it’s typically one user, one plaintiffs suing a company, even if they settle, they might get two years to remediate. But only two years is relevant to that individual user.

If another user comes along and they’re not remediated, they are able to sue, because the site is still not of “ADA standards”. So just because a company has settled in the past, does not mean that they are free of another lawsuit, particularly if they settled individually, which nearly all of them are. So it’s an individual lawsuit.

Secondly, a lot of these lawsuits are on a second site. So you might find a brand, that has three or four sub-brands, and the lawsuit was on one brand, and then as soon as they settle their suit for the second brand.

That’s deliberate and the plaintiffs firms do not allow you to settle across all of your brands and all of your apps they typically have one lawsuit on one brand one website, so they open up the opportunity to do multiple lawsuits. You’re going to see some figures around again a typical week where you’ll see now actually the trend is to go back to all of the sites are got sued for websites last year and people and there’s one firm in particular and a couple of other firms are just focused on on suing apps. So essentially they’re just going back to the same list and then creating lawsuits to the native app. Actually if we move on to the next slide, Now the Domino’s Effect I think is just an effect of business as usual that’s what I would say is the effects of the Domino’s case.

Everyone may have heard of it.

essentially Domino’s tried to push back because of in their eyes a lack of regulation a lack of specification and essentially tried to go to the Supreme Court and get them to hear a case where essentially at the lower court level essentially they wanted not to have to face a lawsuit under ADA Basically the Supreme Court didn’t hear the case they rejected the case essentially that just put it back into a place where it was status quo. What we saw over that period and it sort of reflects the fact that in 2019 there was a slight dip in numbers against 2018. Because a lot of the plaintiffs firms over the weeks leading up to this were going slow But as soon as the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case the weekly rate went back up to normal which is around 60 or 70 cases a week.

And that leads me to look at what does a week look like? So if we go and look at a week typical breakdown this is actually the first is like January 6th to the 10th.

So the first full week of the year. This is a typical ADA week in terms of lawsuits, and I just sort of want to put out some trends so you understand that it’s not you know it’s not 70 individuals had problems with 70 random sites.

It’s very much a production around finding the sites that are most likely gonna be out to be sued for ADA and most likely gonna pay and settle quite quickly. So the first thing you’ll see is that there’s basically 70 lawsuits in that week. So that’s a typical rate about one an hour every working hour is essentially what we see today.

And we’re not seeing a big increase on that because essentially plaintiffs firms there’s only a set number of plaintiff firms and some of them are the most active there’s some practicality about how many lawsuits they can handle and make effective. So essentially I think in 2018 the top 10 plaintiffs firms were 80% of the cases, 2019 they’re only 65% of the cases but it’s still 65% of the cases.

So think of firms only have a certain capacity. So essentially you know those firms are really dictating how many lawsuits there are. That’s why the weekly number doesn’t shoot up or shoot down essentially they have their weekly capacity that they might work on.

And most of them work on a monthly capacity. So one law firm would probably focus on in one particular week they might submit 15 lawsuits in one day and that would be, all they do that month and then they’re gonna, work those lawsuits and work settlements. So it’s important to sort of see, the types of people that are suing, so if we look about some of those trends in the back, right. 50% of the lawsuits are large brands, over 100 million dollar revenue type companies, and again. The second key point is of those, 45% of those cases are multiple lawsuits.

They’re meaning that they are not the first time, that that brand being sued.

So you look at the 2019 numbers it was 21%. But actually, the bigger the company, the more likely is gonna be a higher number. They’re not suing, multiple small people for the multiple time, they’re suing big companies and multiple times. And then a new thing that we’re seeing statistically this year because I think we got two very active plaintiffs lawyers, which are focused on it, is 20% of the big brands lawsuits that week.

we’re a native app related. And we’ll go to like, what’s being asked, what’s being identified, in web and native apps and a little bit, in terms of what’s in those cases. From a state level, I think it’s important to address this. You know, the vast majority of those cases in that week, is very reflective of is similar.

Essentially, you’ve got over half typically submitted in, New York State and a good portion of submitted in Florida.

California seems to be a little bit more popular this year than last year. The reason why California is not as popular at the federal level is because their state legislation is more attractive. So actually, most California based lawsuits, are done at the state level. They’re not included in this data. But it reflect a couple of things I think it reflects that, these are the regions or the circuits, which have the case law, which is is of, “favorable” to plaintiffs.

So allowing these suits to be brought. Again we issued this data in 2018 and this has not changed, 95% of the cases settle and they settled quickly. Why do they settle quickly? is because the cost of defending them, compared to the cost of settling them, is actually more, so We’ll get into, I don’t wanna get in too much detail, but the main difference is, ADA is not a lawsuit where you can claim damages, you can really only claim fees.

So if a plaintiffs firm sues you, the cost will only go up if you defend yourself.

If you don’t defend yourself, they can only claim the amount fee, that they’ve spent suing you for the first time, which is why most people settled quickly, because they don’t want the clock, to start ticking on the plaintiffs face. And that’s why most people, will settle and then tell their teams, to get this done as quickly as possible.

Because, as you’ve seen, most likely, you’ll get another one quite quickly, if you don’t get to a point where you’ve got the site in a place where they’re gonna leave you alone, which is fully remediated, good statements up, and we’re gonna go into that, from a practical point of view. Just some sort of like, just to give you an idea, of the other reason why they also might be focused, especially in New York, is because a lot of you know, law firm specializes are based in New York and in Florida.

So that’s also a home tuff.

New York might also be a great thing, because it’s very important to understand, is not New York based headquarter businesses. that are being sued, anyone who practices in New York City, any website that sells in New York City can be sued. So the types of companies are across America, and also internationally. And if you’re sued in New York, you gotta defend in New York. So again, you’re gonna be less likely, to wanna spend on expensive lawyers, to defend yourself in New York, you’re most likely gonna settle in New York quickly, because you don’t wanna pay the extras to defend yourself in New York.

So again, these are all factors, that are associated why most suits are done in New York and Florida. But it’s not that to their effect and they’re not affecting only New York-based companies, they are affecting every company across America and even, international companies, that do business in New York State, you know, for example, any retailer that’s based in Europe, that has a website that sells into New York State, they are subject to being sued in New York.

And then just a note on that sort of, again on the app, you know, we talked about 20% of those of those big firms, got a native app lawsuit in that week. Well is not 12 different companies, right, it’s one plaintiff firm, one plaintiff target, in those particular types of retailers and they were actually all retailers. And basically, submitting lawsuits one day, 12 lawsuits in one day, one plaintiff, one plaintiffs firm against 12 companies.

And I don’t think any of those companies, are actually based in Florida.

So again, companies all over the country, but that, app services people in Florida so they can sue. So that just gives you a sort of an idea, what a week looks like. And I think the main takeaways is that, this is a production in the most part. The vast majority of these lawsuits are plaintiffs firms that recognized that they can put together a program that will identify sites which have issues, and that are easy to basically templatized, you know, put a template together, very similar issues, similar type of use cases, they can reference in terms of issues, and they do a lot of lawsuits.

I would say again, their opportunity is also based on the fact that most companies, have not prioritized accessibility. If a company has prioritized accessibility, has made sure that they’re doing a really good job, of making sure most of their top pages, top user flows, are fully accessible, don’t have issues with regard to you know, working with a screen reader, they have someone touching the screen reader, they aren’t being sued.

So, again, there’s a balance between, where the responsibility lies while some responsibility and used to live with the companies, which haven’t done enough, haven’t prioritized. The DOJ been suing these types of companies, for 20 years. It’s not a surprise that people were who are blind with, screen readers want to use a website.

And if they can’t use your website, you’re going to get sued. Now, you know, we can go into the discussion about, whether it’s, you know, whether it’s an honest suit around someone, who really wants to use a website, or if it’s more of a outreach of activists, to advocate for accessibility. But essentially, websites have left themselves vulnerable. web apps, have left themselves vulnerable, because they have not taken accessibility seriously if they took accessibility seriously prioritize, did the work, they wouldn’t find themselves in this situation. So, there’s a two edged sword, to why it’s possible for all these lawsuits happen.

It’s possible because most sites have, accessibility issues which are easy to find, reasonably easy to fix, and companies haven’t done it. But also, you know, it’s important to understand that, there’s not a natural organic suit So the volume is strong because, it’s a production like activity around plaintiffs lawyers, that’s why the numbers are so big. So what was another thing that that came across in 2020? so when we start looking at lawsuits this year, Big thing which is very interesting to me is that they now right in by almost by default, WCAG 2.1.

Actually, they normally write both 2.0 and 2.1. So what a lawsuit typically does is, it identify a whole bunch of things that their client, the plaintiffs had issues with on the site, all the app.

And actually, if I show you the most common ones, right.

So these are the most common items cited in a case to, establish that the website, or the app, has not provided equal access to that client, typically using a screen reader. So you’re going to see lots of reference to things like, voiceover or screen readers. And so you’re also going to recognize that, these items are probably quite easy to find, as problems, So again, going back to how they work like, they probably give a list of a number of sites, to their client, their client Goes to that site.

Their client identifies things, that they have issues with, when they use in voiceover or screen readers. The plaintiffs firm may also have an accessibility expert, they’re making good money, they can afford an accessible expert, that might also be running a free or, an automated testing tool.

This also documented all the issues against WCAG, and they write in a very long list inside of that case. So they’re establishing that, not only should you make sure that your website works, with disabilities, but it also, needs to conform with WCAG 2.0, on as I just showed you, now they reference 2.1. Now that requires, even more work for companies, if you’re being told that you need to, just settle with me, as a plaintiff.

you need to go make sure your websites accessible, but also Make sure that it conforms with WCAG 2.1.

I’ve just asked you a lot more work than when I say 2.0. There’s a very important aspect of this.

You know, I don’t want to get into the lawyer world, but you know one of the things that lawyers want to avoid, is writing too much standards into settlement agreements. You know, the prevailing idea is to make sure that you know, what you want to do, is be a lot more broad in your settlement agreements, say, we will design to WCAG conforming standards, we will hire and have people, from the disability community test on a regular basis, we will document that testing will have an external, consultant that confirms that our website is accessible. What you do with that, you do not make a mistake of saying, and we will be 2.0 double A conforming, to the rest of our lives, right? Because it’s very hard to get, to that standard and be 100 percent.

So it’s a note when lawyers are talking about settlements, to try to keep away from, version numbers and standard numbers, which aren’t written into the ADA.

So if they’re being sued under the ADA, it’s more of a equal access, and you can talk about, how you put together a program, your general efforts, that you will make sure are in place, to make sure the site is accessible. And try to avoid being brought into a tit for tat. Yeah, but you failed these four items on WCAG 2.1, double a reference number x.

If you get into that mode, you’re going to spend lots of time and energy, trying to compare list from one, plaintiff’s firm to your firm. So you know, these are these are the things that, they want to bring you into a discussion around WCAG. Well you wannna stay around, is a discussion of making sure people can use your website, if they have a screen reader. They are linked but they can be completely different, conversations and level of effort, in terms of complying with with those settlement agreements. So this gives you an idea of just the commonality, you know, and to be frank, even when a lawsuit says, and your website doesn’t comply with 2.

1 standards, they’re only referencing 2.0 criteria.

They’re not getting into doing the testing, that they need to do to make sure that your site covers 2.1 in every case because factors in 2.0 affect 2.

2 So they can claim the site fails in 2.0 You sell it in 2.1, And they throw in 2.1. Cause it’s the is the prevailing standard out there today.

And, again, puts you feeling, ” Oh yeah, they’re right. We don’t do 2.1. So essentially, they’re trying to pile on right now. The standard which changing.

Just on that point, it’s not going to help anybody on this call probably But the WC ideas also create a new standard this year 2.2. And there’s also a plan for 3.0, within the next 18 months. So that, again, trying to avoid settlements, which reference individual standards, I think is very important, because the standards are changing.

And if you write in, for example, WCAG with no standard, When it goes to 3.0, someone might come back and say, well, you said, the prevailling standards is 3.0, So I’m trying to avoid those sort of references, I think, quite useful in settlements.

Taking you to the next one, So practical next steps. So what do you need to do, to try to not be on that weekly list Right?

So that’s our number one. And then what do you need to do, to make sure , you feel good about not being on a list in the future? So we talk about short, medium and long term. And we’ve got lots of practical sort of free resources, which can get you and even, You know, essentially accessibility is detail. It takes a certain amount of skill, but it’s not impossible for companies to do themselves.

We try to come in and make it as painless as possible, for companies, that’s our goal. Our goal is to make it as quick and easy, for your team to do it, or we can do it for you.

And everything can be done internally, what we try to do is help companies, you know, not take up their their finite resources, and do this as quickly as possible, because the quicker you do it, the quicker you’re off, the list of getting multiple lawsuits, but on a very short term practical basis. What you’re going to want to do is, you’re going to want to decide, what is the standard that we want to put down, you know, what do we What’s our goal? What’s our standard goal?

The reason we still say 2.0 is because, every law that’s ever used a standard, so the Federal Law, Section 508, the Air Carrier Act, all reference 2.0.

Most case law in this space under ADA has said, 2.0 should be good enough.

They don’t say that it’s exactly the same as ADA. And we would generally recommend, that if you are writing a settlement letter, and they want a standard? 2.0 AA you should be able to negotiate, but you’ve got to think well, what is digital for us. Because we can get sued for anything and you know,today its website.

this year is probably going to be apps, is going to be popular but, you know, multimedia videos, there was another lawsuit recently, on that PDF reportedly next as well. So making sure that you’ve got an inventory, of what you class as digital, right? We would recommend early on creating and publishing an accessibility statement. Even if you haven’t even started, or you’re just about to stop.

Indicate your intention to make sure, it’s easy for people, who really have problems to contact you.

There is no legal difference, between you making a statement, in the idea, well to say we’re working on it, then if you’re not working on it, it doesn’t protect you 100%. But it, actually one thing that some judges have asked for. If a company gets sued as, Do you have a statement or a policy because, that shows that you did actually start the process.

You’ve got buy in, you’re not going to publish a statement Unless, you know, top people have sort of bought into that. The other thing that a statement does is, it gets buy in, it will get you budget, right you need budget to address the accessibility, you can’t be a lone wolf out there, trying to make sure your websites and apps are accessible.

So creating a company policy or company statement. You then need involving different level people, you’re getting buy in, you can establish Well, look, what we’re gonna say, we’re going to create, we’re going to take our websites and our apps and our PDF, And over the next two years, we’re going to do this well, we need budget for that. But you know, and then people can start to recognize, that actually, if you get put on accessibility, there’s a company statement.

There’s a company initiative, there’s company budget, and people are more likely to take the initiative stronger. Because of these things.

You should quickly test for WCAG, it’s what the lawyers do. You should use and we have a free version of the test, that you can quickly look to see, you know, someone tests our homepage, is someone tested those top 10 pages? How many issues would they find quickly, right, so that will put you in some place. You should perform user testing, with people with disabilities, that the whole lawsuit is a blind person, with a screen reader can’t use your site, go find blind people, with screen readers and test your site. They could be staff, they could be friends of staff, they could be local communities of blind users.

They could be organizations, like the the American Federation of the Blind they could be companies like us, who have resources, that can be used for that testing.

So if, you’ve gone out, and you’ve started to use people with disabilities, and they’re okay, and they known to complete the top three, or four things that your site does, create documentation, if you ever get sued. If they can’t do it, you know, you’re in a position where you, might well be at legal risk. And we encourage you to hire Accessibility experts, you know, a consultant, create a role or hire company like us. The whole purpose of that is to try to speed it up.

You know, to try to make it quicker, for developers to do what they need to do. These are expensive resources. They’re finite resources. You don’t want them going out and learning about, accessibility when they don’t need to. It’s good to have someone on hand to, reduce the amount of time that those people are working.

You know, it’s obvious, once you’ve got the sort of handle on the early stages, you go over to midterm, you’ve got to be thinking, what is the real remediation? This is the expensive stuff. The left hand side is not the expensive stuff.

It’s important because, you need to know what needs to get done. So the middle, the medium term is the expensive stuff.

It’s going to involve your developers, it’s going to involve your UX team, it’s going to involve your QA team, right? You may have to do a redesign. It really is what costs companies the most to do. So you need to be getting buy in, you need to get in budget, you need to get in time from different groups to do it. There’s companies like ourselves, who have options where we can do most of the work for you.

But someone’s gonna have to do the work. So you need to start prepping and think, about what is that timeline, what is that resource structure. And then unfortunately, accessibility, is not a one done and go, It says you have to maintain is very much like security. You know, you’ve got to every time you do a change, you’ve got to just reconfirm the work you did before, is not being changed, that you’ve kept accessibility if you add new features.

And this is where accessibility in the digital space, is very different than accessibility in the physical space.

In a physical space, a company has to build accessibility into a physical space, which will not change for 10-20 years, a restaurant, once they build their disabled ramp, it is there for the rest of time, until probably the restaurant disappears. Accessibility on the digital space, is working in an environment that’s changing all the time, people running updates, third party content being used, content being added by marketing not just development. So you’ve got to think about the maintenance, you’ve got to think about, the processes in place to maintain accessibility. That’s, you know, an ongoing the lifecycle component. So another thing to think about, but also in this legal world, how do you document that?

How do you make sure you’ve got it on record, that you do all of this? How can you quickly give that information, to your in-house or external counsel to say yeah, we actually take this seriously, this is our activity.

Here’s all of our documentation. Go away we think it’s a serious subject and we’re doing it, so if you do get lawsuits, you can be strong in your negotiation. So quickly on to what I think is gonna happen in 2020, This is a very sort of like broad, hey what do we think about 2020 coming up, some of these are legal, but they were sort of driven by the legal side.

lawsuits are not going away. The rate right now is, on power a little bit higher than 2019. On the federal side, again, state and demand letters are on the rise. I believe corporations are now understanding they can’t wait and see. They should get to that sort of short term, minimize legal risk, as quickly as possible.

You’re gonna see more sort lawsuits on native apps, you might start seeing lawsuits on things like PDFs. We’re already seeing lawsuits on things like videos, which don’t have to actually. CMS platforms are gonna launch accessibility templates. I mean, it’s obvious that, a lot of these small companies get sued for five or $6,000, or not even spending five or $6,000 on their website.

They might spend $100 on their website.

So you’re not gonna spend hundreds on your website, unless you think that part of the responsibility, for the accessibility is being taken by the CMS. That’s the same for retail platforms and for web agencies. Now, when a company gets sued, probably the first thing they do, is bring up their agencies, that build the website and says, why are we just got sued. And most of those agencies will say, well, we didn’t add it into the contract. It’s not in the contract, we’re not responsible for it.

So I’m assuming the next year when you renew, you’re gonna wanna make sure they’re in your contract. We’ve written about, how you add clauses to whether agency contracts, I think it’s very important to get ahead of, and you wanna make sure, all the companies that you’re paying, to do your digital channels, should be taking responsibility for accessibility.

There’s gonna be greater awareness in InDesign. In reality, accessibility needs to be built in, right at the start to make it affordable. That means the UX guys and the design guys, need to understand their decisions affect accessibility.

And we’re already seeing that at the Forrester and Gartner level they’re already talking about you know, inclusive design, it’s a very strong buzzword, and it’s very important that those departments still there as important if not the most important, to the future of accessibility of your digital experiences. And we’re already seeing, major companies hiring a lot of people.

If you go on LinkedIn you’ll start seeing the word “accessible and inclusion”, becoming more and more popular inside of job descriptions. And although this is actually quite painful, these lawsuits are quite painful for certain groups, we believe in the end they are increasing the digital accessibility. So there is an upside, although a lot of companies are probably feeling under pressure, being pressured beyond where they like to be pressured to be to be accessible.

But I think most people, if you sit down with most brands, and you said, “Do you think your website should be used by everybody “and being inclusive?” They’ll say, yes.

And it’s really about how they get there, as quickly as possible to reduce, the negative brand experience of getting the lawsuit. So there’s my prediction. Hopefully, we’re sort of close to the end, about 12 minutes of questions.

I wanted to pass back to Bethany ’cause she does a great job of sort of filtering those and like pulling out, ones that you still, will be like, collectively useful. So maybe Bethany you can give me a couple that you feel like stand out to start with. everyone for listening to the webinar so far. We did get a question. Can the recording be sent out after?

And yes, we are recording the session, and we will send out the recording, it will be early next week, because we’re going to get it captioned. But that will be going out and will also, include a link, where you can download the slides, which is the next question that just popped up. So to answer both of those, yes, and yes.

And we are happy to do that, absolutely. We encourage you to share the resources, that we’ve shared during this presentation.

And so there’s so many questions coming in all at once. we’re probably gonna get to some of these questions, but not all of them. What we do is we actually export them, and then we all individually make sure that, everyone gets their answer after the event. If we don’t cover it in this session, I just wanna make sure everyone knows that.

So if you’ve got a question thing, hey, I’m not gonna be answered in time, put it in, we’ll make sure you get an answer to that question.

yes, I am able to pull a report of that. And we can reach out to you individually for those. So let’s go ahead and just pick out a couple. Jason, would you recommend using a free tool, or resource for testing to start? especially to sort of create you know, especially if you let’s say you haven’t been sued, and you’re thinking hey, we should get ahead of this.

How do I get some awareness going right? You know, there’s a number of free tools, we even provide one ourselves. If you go to our homepage, you’ll see AQA free tests, that will allow you to test one page at a time, you can test as many pages as you want to, if you want, even if you sit there, you can type in 100 over time. But what you’ll get from that is, hopefully you’ll get some really useful information. Firstly, you’ll get, a summary of sort of against the standard that you pick, you’ll get a sort of a general overview on a summary.

But you also get, tools for you to look at exactly what’s wrong, where the problem is on that particular page. And we’ve also got a range of screen reader tool, so you can actually even listen and experience, what that’s gonna be like on the screen reader.

As importantly, it’s an online service. So we store that page and that email that you get, to view the report, you can send to anybody. So you could send to any but any one of your team, they could look at it.

It’s gonna be there for one month. So, you know, you can have a discussion about, what you know, what are the key elements, on the key pages that you guys should be addressing, without having to tell a person to run, the same report again, so it’s there. So that’s only us and there’s other free tools out there, get an idea, start the start the awareness internally mean, you’re here there’s a lot, that’s gonna test the easy stuff that sort of like, on the surface stuff is not gonna get deep into okay, if I use the screen read and I tried to make a purchase, and and add a product to cart and then check out, that unique, you know, combination, where then we have a more advanced version, but also you know, you should be using people, who use screen readers to give you that sort of feedback as well.

to that resource just to make it easier, for everyone to find that, next question. You said that lawsuits often reference both, WCAG 2.

0 and 2.1, what are some significant differences, between 2.0 or 2.1? And we can talk about this at a high level.

12 more sort of “things to check”. I actually wrote a blog so maybe Bethany, we can make a note, send that link out to that blog, that what’s the difference. There’s sort of three main areas, I talked about in that blog.

You know, one of them is a requirement that, your site is sort of responsive in terms of their work, it will work in a in a 400% difference. So there’s a number of things in there.

I hope that blog does a good job of sort of narrowing it down but just gives you an idea of, the extra level of “checking” that you might need to do, but then if you fail a criteria, ’cause basically that what W3C is made up off, right? So 2.0AA, is 38 criteria you got a check for and pass, 2.1AA adds as a another 12, to Europe around 40 odd to 50 odd great. If one of them fails, that’s gonna mean that you need to go and do something to remediate it.

And sometimes it’s small, like an old tech, sometimes it’s big, like responsive. So, it depends on which of those criteria you fail, depending on the outcome and the remediation cost. We are getting some questions about, the difference between ADA, sorry, I’m trying to summarize a couple of questions into one.

But about the difference between, we build websites for ourselves, so we need to comply with WCAG technical standards, but also ADA content standards of the site.
So they’re kind of asking about, I think the difference between, someone who is a disabled user, trying to book a room that has the features that they need, versus making sure that the website is accessible.

And I think it might be important, Jason to talk about the difference. To talk again about our, research methodology and ADA website lawsuit for us. So actually, in Florida, there’s actually lots of lawsuits that sue a hotel, for having a website that doesn’t display information correctly, about the rooms that can be used by someone who’s disabled.

That is, “an ADA lawsuit”, but it does not constitute an ADA website, at a lawsuit for our research, meaning the website itself, is not being sued for being inaccessible. Or the app is not being sued for being inaccessible.

They’re being sued for not providing, adequate information. So if I go and if I wanna book a room, I know which room types, I can use someone who, for example is in a wheelchair. Those are actually quite numerous right now.
But for us they’re not a suit against the actual website, structure and WCAG capability of the website. They are a suit against the information provided.

And I frankly don’t know the details of those cases. We don’t track them.

So I don’t know if there’s case law.
I don’t know if they’re actually getting traction. You know, there are actually a couple of good, ADA law sites which actually again, Bethany, let’s give a link to, rights to access defense, Richard Hahn, who covers these types of lawsuits a lot, broad ADA lawsuits and we can send that out to, give you a little bit more information around “other ADA”, sort of digital but not digital lawsuits.

the agency that has built the site for a client? Or does the liability fall on the client? And I think they are asking about, what we see, as far as overall trends and insights.

about all the federal lawsuits, are plaintiffs suing a company that has a website or an app, they don’t reference anything to do with, whether that website was built by somebody. You know, of course, there could be, the website owner might have a contract, with a company to make sure they did it and then, they might try to pass on that lawsuit.

All made, you know, get the agency to take responsibility or take the case, right.

The ones that stand out though, there’s actually a there’s a California case right now. Where an individual Californian, has sued the state of California for a website that they paid $65 million for, which is basically a sort of, I think is the website for one of their, nature reserves or national park.
And essentially the individual who is suing the California State for spending, $65 million on a website that they can’t access. And in that case right now, the original vendor, that was paid $65 million dollars, is being brought into that case by the state because, the state has provisions in that contract to say that, this website should be accessible to WCAG 2.

. And that web, he basically sort of, “just sort of said”, yes it works and didn’t check but it works, when they delivered it.

So we’re already seeing cases.
And I just know that there’ll be more, but the primary way that most of this will be handled, probably is on contract renewal. When you renew a contract with an agency and the agency has been delivering you a website, you’re most likely gonna wanna try to make sure that they take responsibility for, making sure that the site stays compliant.

Although it’s a you know, and I actually covered this, we can send an email, it’s not a black and white decision, because a lot of the times you might have an agency build a website, but then your marketing department is adding content, so your marketing department is gonna have to be responsible for the content they generate and the agency might need to be, responsible for the templates and for the structure and for the functionality, and so you need to come into an understanding of who’s responsible for what part of compliance in that contract.

I think we’re at a limit for, I just want to be respectful for people’s time. and I am able to, pull a report, if you have to drop, please, you know, feel free to go ahead and do that.
There is a survey that will pop up after the webinar. And please take just a couple minutes its four questions long.

Let us know how we did, if we covered the information that you wanted, if you could understand, Jason speaking. We take all of that into consideration when we plan future webinars. So thank you, everyone, for attending today we appreciate it.
I can pull these questions and Jason do you have any, final thoughts before we conclude? got something new out of that and again, to Bethany, I really do appreciate you find some time to share your time with us, and hopefully we’ll be able to help, everybody on this webinar over time.

to you will help us generate some future blog, blog posts as well. So if you’re not already signed up for the blog, I would encourage you to do that. Thank you, everyone for joining today.
And with that, the webinar is now ended..

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