February 15, 2022

Why ADA Lawsuits for Web-Based Discrimination Are Becoming More Common

Anyone who has ever operated a brick-and-mortar business is likely familiar with Title 3 of ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, almost every entrepreneurial venture needs to be aware of it these days. After all, it’s become a widely used tool for litigation and alleging the non-compliance of websites to this legal standard. It’s also the reason why many have started to rely on accessibility solutions by providers like accessiBe. To know more about the technology they offer, read this accessiBe review.

Title 3 — What is it?

Title 3 essentially requires that all private business owners ensure that their physical environments remain accessible to everyone. Thus, guests with conditions that restrict their movements, activities, or senses who visit the premises must be accommodated enough to eliminate any potential barriers to products or solutions. Industries like food and beverage, retail, and hospitality are all too familiar with Title 3, while others might be less so, especially with web compliance.

Back when Congress initially enacted it in the nineties, its application wasn’t originally intended for digital content. After all, the World Wide Web was still in its early stages, and no one could anticipate how it would impact American lives. Over time, its interpretation began to expand, covering digital content and mobile applications so that those who depend on ATs or assistive technology to go online, like magnification software and screen readers, can access services and goods that are available through digital means.

Title 3’s continuous expansion remains consistent with the intent of Congress to maintain accommodations under the ADA’s pace with changing technology. And the unintended consequence is the surf-by lawsuit’s advent.

Surf-by lawsuits

Recognizing the opportunity for taking advantage of the unsuspecting businesses that fail to comply with ADA and WCAG, plaintiffs’ firms have begun to send demand letters and file lawsuits to brands and companies whose online presence may not necessarily be accessible to the differently-abled. The claims are generally brought about by testers — people who check the websites or mobile applications of businesses, with the intention to discover accessibility violations. Because one tester can effectively test many apps and sites with minimal effort, it’s fairly common for similar lawsuits filed against multiple businesses. It isn’t even unusual for these lawsuits to come from the same plaintiff.

Remain prepared

To avoid costly lawsuits, businesses must ensure that their online presence is as accessible as their physical spaces. There are many ways to do this. For starters, the addition of alt text to images can help the visually impaired understand these visual elements. On the other hand, AI-transcription services can also help the deaf consume video content or podcasts. The key is to focus on accessibility from the outset instead of adding them after.


With millions of websites today that remain non-compliant with WCAG and ADA guidelines, it comes as no surprise that the lawsuits for web-based discrimination continue to rise. The only way for businesses to combat this is to ensure that your site is accessible to those with disabilities. Apart from avoiding expensive legal fees and settlements, it also helps companies attract a larger demographic since they’ll be catering to a much broader audience.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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