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What to do when you receive an ADA web accessibility demand letter

Illustration on an ADA demand letter with a danger sign below it, followed by a horizontal line with 4 steps, which results in the accessibility icon.

First of all, do you know what it means to receive an ADA web accessibility demand letter? To put your heart at ease, it does not mean that you are getting sued. At least not yet. It does, however, mean that your website has not been compliant to the WCAG accessibility standards, or to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

ADA demand letters are being issued more and more lately. In fact, it is estimated that over 265 thousand of them are sent to companies each year. And this number is on the rise. If your business is one of them, there is no need to panic. Instead, you can use this moment as an opportunity to improve your user experience for all people. You can even potentially grow your user base, sales and reputation.

So without further ado, here are some tips on how to handle this situation. We have put together 4 steps to take after you have received an ADA web accessibility demand letter:

1. Consult legal counsel

As we said before, getting an ADA demand letter does not mean that you are receiving a lawsuit, but it does have some legal consequences. Especially if your website has an accessibility issue for which you could actually be sued. Therefore, it is important to hire a trusted lawyer who can review the letter from a legal perspective. They can analyze who filed the complaint against you, where it was filed and whether it is a relevant claim or not. From there, you can start planning your next steps more precisely. 

2. Bring in a subject matter expert

If you do not have experience in creating accessible websites, it is essential that you partner up with an expert on the matter. That person will be able to help you thoroughly investigate the ADA demand letter, explore and test the issues in question. This way, you may even find out that the accessibility claim you received is not relevant to your website’s digital experience, that you are not actually violating any ADA guidelines or that it is not your responsibility to fix the problem. Then, you will know if and how to adjust your accessibility flaws. Maybe you can even start planning a full web accessibility design improvement.

3. Make the appropriate adjustments

After you have determined that there is a valid issue to be fixed, it is better to start working on fixing it as soon as possible. This way, you can avoid the potential lawsuit, making the necessary adjustments on your own and not wasting time and money on legal disputes. Also, this is the right and the smart thing to do when it comes to your relationship with your users.

4. Be proactive in addressing ADA demand letters

Last but not least, proactivity is of the essence. Ensure that all claimed issues are solved in a timely manner. Then, you will always be ahead of the situation, and will not be taken by surprise as everything unfolds. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Train your team on who should be responsible for the ADA web accessibility demand letters once they arrive.
  • Assign ownership to each ADA compliance issue that arises, even if that means hiring outside parties.
  • Follow up on progress consistently when addressing the accessibility compliance issues.
  • Share the results with the team! This way everyone will be on the same page and can even generate some insights and future improvement actions from the experience.

Even if you have not received an ADA web accessibility demand letter, you can benefit from verifying if your website fulfills the necessary accessibility requirements. For instance, did you know that 97% of the top one million home pages on the web have WCAG conformance failures? On average they show almost 51 errors per page. This is not something you should ignore or put in the back drawer for later. Luckily, you can count on Hand Talk to help you learn how to improve your web accessibility status 😉

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