Do developers and designers need to worry about their legal liability for client’s websites if their client gets sued for violating the ADA? Here’s a website accessibility release of liability template you can use with your clients.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed in 1990. Before the Internet was a part of everyday life for most Americans.
Title III of the ADA provides standards required for businesses’ brick-and-mortar locations to properly accommodate disabled individuals (things like ramps and accessible parking.) But there are no similar legal standards set (yet) with regard to what makes websites accessible.
The ADA has expanded to include websites
As the internet has grown in importance, the ADA’s interpretation has been expanded. The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and U.S. courts are applying the ADA to websites and mobile applications. Despite the lack of clear laws and regulations, businesses are being sued and held liable for failing to meet the undefined website accessibility standards.
There is a complete lack of clarity about which sites are required under the ADA to be accessible. For instance, the courts are divided about whether a company must have a physical, brick-and-mortar presence before their website must be accessible under the ADA.
Additionally, it’s very easy for a website to move out of compliance. All it takes is a single content creator uploading an image that does not contain alt text.
Developers and web professionals will definitely want to do everything they can to make websites accessible. Which is generally following WCAG 2.0 AA standards (or 2.1 standards).
Uncertainty around what makes a website compliant with the ADA
There is a lot of uncertainty about what makes a website compliant with the ADA. After a website is delivered, clients adding their own content may make the website inaccessible. It’s wise for developers to get an acknowledgment from new clients about this lack of clarity. A release of liability should contain the client’s acknowledgment that it’s their sole legal responsibility to maintain any legally required compliance.
Use this release of liability template at your own risk. Consult your own attorney about what Is legally required and best practices for your particular situation.