In reviewing the legal landscape of 2023, a prominent trend emerges: the significant increase in digital accessibility lawsuits. This trend underscores the importance of web accessibility not only for fostering inclusion but also for mitigating legal risks. Below, we delve into some key legal developments from the past year that highlight this growing area of concern for businesses.
Surge in Digital Accessibility-Related Litigation
2023 witnessed a substantial rise in litigation related to digital accessibility. Over 250,000 demand letters were sent to various businesses, primarily concerning their online platforms’ compliance with accessibility standards. The majority of these notices resulted in settlements, often costing businesses thousands of dollars. Those not resolved through settlements escalated into lawsuits, adding financial and reputational burdens on the companies involved.
Record-Breaking Increase in Digital Accessibility Lawsuits
The trend of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) related digital accessibility lawsuits saw a steep increase in 2023, reaching a record high of 4,605 cases filed at both state and federal levels. This marks a 13% rise from the previous year, indicating a growing legal focus on web accessibility. A graph illustrating this trend from 2018 to 2023 shows not only the annual number of lawsuits but also the year-over-year growth rate, highlighting 2023 as a record-breaking year.
E-Commerce Businesses: A Prime Target
E-commerce businesses found themselves particularly vulnerable in 2023, with 82% of all digital accessibility lawsuits filed against them. This trend reflects the critical role of digital platforms in commerce and the heightened expectation for these platforms to be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
Ongoing Risks Despite Proactive Measures
We install and manage the accessiBe software for many of our clients. Interestingly, some businesses faced lawsuits even after implementing web accessibility solutions, indicating that mere compliance may not be sufficient to ward off legal challenges. However, services like accessiBe’s Litigation Support Package, included in accessiBe licenses, provide a safety net. This package offers essential documents, knowledge, and support to help businesses counter claims and prove their compliance if their accessibility efforts are questioned.
The legal trends of 2023 highlight the growing importance of digital accessibility. As lawsuits rise, it becomes imperative for businesses, especially those in e-commerce, to prioritize web accessibility not only as a moral and social responsibility but also as a legal necessity. The year 2023 serves as a stark reminder of the legal implications of failing to ensure digital inclusivity. Businesses must therefore stay vigilant and proactive in making their digital platforms accessible to all.