1. Whether you have an accurate accessibility statement
An accessibility statement provides information about the steps you’re taking to accommodate users with disabilities. It’s written in simple language and may also include your goals to meet standards such as WCAG Level AA (read more about WCAG conformance levels).
Other features of an accessibility statement include:
- Your website’s current conformance status (conformance means voluntarily following a set of guidelines such as WCAG).
- Any alternative options for accessing certain content?
- A list of known accessibility barriers.
- Contact information for submitting feedback about accessibility issues.
Publishing an accessibility statement doesn’t provide blanket protection from litigation, but it shows that your organization is committed to accessibility. That can be important if you receive a demand letter: If you support your statement with action, it establishes that you care about your users and have a long-term strategy.
Related: Do I Need an Accessibility Statement On My Website?
2. The number and types of accessibility barriers
Not all web accessibility barriers are equally disruptive to users. Some issues are minor annoyances — these are generally covered under the Level AAA standards of WCAG.
Others are more severe: Level A and Level AA success criteria are essential for usability. If your website has many serious barriers, you have a higher risk of a lawsuit.
Some examples of web accessibility barriers cited in ADA lawsuits include:
This is not a comprehensive list. To limit your risk, you should perform regular accessibility audits and remediate any WCAG Level A/AA failures as soon as possible.
The DOJ and W3C recommend using a combination of automated audits and manual tests to evaluate web content. For more guidance, read: What’s the Difference Between Manual and Automated Accessibility Testing?
3. Your business’s physical location
In the United States, most web accessibility lawsuits are filed in New York, California, or Florida. California businesses may be especially susceptible to litigation due to the state’s Unruh Act, which allows plaintiffs to collect statutory damages.
However, you may still face a lawsuit if you operate in one of these states — even if your brick-and-mortar location is elsewhere. In other words, if you sell or promote products in California, you may be sued under the Unruh Act.
That may not apply if your business doesn’t operate a physical storefront.
The California Court of Appeals recently ruled that online-only businesses are exempt from the Unruh Act. That opinion is expected to limit accessibility lawsuits in California, but the state’s Supreme Court may reverse it.