Is Your New York Business Compliant With ADA Standards for Websites?
When we talk about ADA standards for websites and compliance, the state of New York stands out in terms of the number of ADA lawsuits. In 2020, the state recorded a staggering 2,523 ADA lawsuits, a 12% increase from its 2019 total.
Like in other states, following ADA standards for websites is an essential requirement in New York. So, if you own a website or sell products or services in New York, it’s important to ensure that your website is accessible to everyone.
In this post, we will look into Website ADA Compliance New York. We’ll also discuss why there are more cases than any other state, how to avoid them, who faces these cases, and the state’s laws.
Understanding the Wave of ADA Lawsuits in New York
As mentioned, New York recorded over 2,000 ADA-related lawsuits in the past year. Additionally, it leads the country in ADA Title III lawsuits, followed by Florida and California.
Here are the reasons why New York is a hotspot for ADA noncompliance lawsuits.
1. Lawsuits are filed by 10 law offices, most of which are located in New York.
In October 2019, a dozen individuals filed hundreds of lawsuits against businesses for violating Title III of the ADA.
Additionally, these lawsuits included violations of the local New York state and city laws and were filed through at least four law firms. These lawsuits were filed in Federal District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Divisions of New York.
2. According to human rights laws of the state, plaintiffs can recover damages in New York if they add state or city claims to ADA lawsuits.
Website lawsuits often involve residents of states or locales that provide greater dollar damages or more specific attorney fee provisions than the ADA.
These lawsuits are even apart from threat letters demanding remediation of websites and settlement fees that include attorney fees.
Additionally, the states with the highest number of cases tended to be those with plaintiff-friendly court decisions. These included New York, which has Human Rights Laws at both state and city levels.
3. Defendants don’t have to be located in New York. If someone is accessing your website in New York, you are subjected to New York’s laws.
In 2018, thousands of lawsuits were filed based on the claim that businesses built a website in an inaccessible manner. It included lawsuits filed by different attorneys across the US.
Additionally, the defendant businesses are not incorporated in New York, nor do they have their principal place of business in the state.
That said, it’s now commonplace for businesses nationwide to be sued or receive demand letters, as individuals from any state can now file lawsuits.
Who Usually Faces Website Accessibility Lawsuits in New York? Understanding the Requirements of ADA Standards for Websites
Whether your website is big or small, you risk facing a lawsuit if it doesn’t comply with the necessary accessibility guidelines.
For instance, a few big and small businesses have been involved with legal cases due to noncompliance. Here are some of them:
The plaintiff alleged that the company’s website doesn’t comply with WCAG 2.0, WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards.
For instance, the plaintiff cited the site’s mislabeled images and buttons and site elements idon’t integrate with a screen reader.
State’s Own Website Accessibility Laws and Regulations
ADA standards for websites and compliance in New York is not the only law applicable for people with disabilities. In some cases, state or local laws require more than the ADA.
For instance, New York has two laws covering website accessibility: Local Law 26 of 2016 and NYS PO8-005.
Local Law 26 of 2016
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed this law. The law requires city government websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. The said law requires state agencies to adhere to:
✅ Section 1194.22 of title 36 of the code of federal regulations; OR
✅ The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.
Additionally, Local Law 26 of 2016 requires that these websites make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. However, state agencies aren’t required to make significant alterations like service or financial burdens.
The NYS P08-005 is a New York state policy that establishes minimum accessibility requirements for web-based information and applications. These include those that have been developed, procured, maintained, or used by state entities.
This policy encourages a more inclusive state workforce by providing readily available governmental services to all public members.
Other New York Laws on Accessibility
New York City’s Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The law includes people whose impairments are not as substantial as the narrower ADA.
Additionally, New York City´s Building Code doesn’t permit access waivers for newly constructed facilities. It also requires the incorporation of access features when existing facilities are renovated.
The New York State Hospital code also sets a higher standard than the ADA for communication. Tools like language interpreters should be provided for services at most hospitals, even on an outpatient basis.
You can also check this website for more information on the NY State Hospital Code.
How to Ensure That Your Business Meets ADA Standards for Website in New York
It’s essential to never leave compliance to chance. Instead, you should adopt a proactive approach and consider actionable ways to comply with the guidelines.
Here are some of the things you can do to ensure you meet Website ADA Compliance in New York.
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Title III of the ADA states, businesses that provide goods and services are covered. It also states that all public accommodations must be accessible to people with disabilities to comply with the law.
Additionally, the ADA covers landlords that lease businesses or hold franchises.
Generally, ADA complaints can be brought forward in the following ways:
Public or customers against small business via a private lawsuit
Through enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice
Lawsuits filed with city and state human rights offices under state and city human rights laws
Under the third possibility, a complainant cannot file a lawsuit based on the same facts with other courts or agencies. It applies if they file a case with the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
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