Many colleges and universities are dealing with threatened litigation from a Pennsylvania law firm relating to claims that their websites are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Essentially, the claimants in these cases assert that the websites are not accessible by visual or hearing impaired individuals.
ADA standards for websites have yet to be fully established, and as a result, some institutions have not yet modified their websites to accommodate users with disabilities. The claimants, all represented by the same law firm, seek to negotiate a settlement with the targeted institutions. The proposed settlement consists of a cash settlement and an agreement to modify the website to permit the use of the website by disabled individuals.
If your institution is contacted by a law firm claiming to represent such claimants, you should seek counsel promptly. There are significant issues concerning whether these claimants have the requisite standing to assert claims under the ADA. Importantly, before facing threatened litigation, institutions should evaluate their websites to ensure that they are accessible by individuals with disabilities. Ensuring compliance with recognized accessibility standards will reduce, if not eliminate, an institution’s exposure for such disability discrimination claims.
Please contact Susan Deniker for additional information about these claims. Should your institution be contacted concerning these matters, members of the Higher Education Practice Team can assist in preparing a response and minimizing the impact of any settlement.