Stop Law Firms From Sending Threatening Demand Letters
In recent years, since the enactment of the American Disabilities Act in 1990, courts throughout the country have ruled that accessibility laws also pertain to a company’s website, and have held companies financially liable for difficulties that disabled visitors experience online.
Although Federal Law does not require a financial institution to make its website ADA Compliant at this time, the guidelines are expected in 2018. However, waiting until 2018 could have costly consequences since law firms representing private litigants have become increasingly aggressive in recent months in pursuing financial institutions regarding web accessibility.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation spurred on by advocacy groups and litigation can be just around the corner for your website. It’s also a very lucrative business for plaintiffs’ attorneys who want to line their pockets, so it’s important for financial institutions to take proactive steps now to move their websites towards ADA Compliance to save themselves the cost of pricey litigation.
Banks that do not have ADA compliant websites can face serious issues, and if unaddressed—can expose your financial institution not only to high costs but also to bad publicity. All that it takes is one frustrated user of your bank’s website partnering with a disability rights advocacy group or an amenable attorney to bring a case against your institution. What’s more, there’s no geographic restriction with the Internet. A plaintiff using your bank’s website in another state could file a lawsuit in that jurisdiction, which would be even more costly for you to defend.
In the near future, it’s predicted that we will see a sharp rise in cyber accessibility claims with lawsuits against banks and credit unions.
Since 2000 when Bank of America agreed to improve its user experience for visually impaired people as part of a settlement, other accessibility claims have been settled by Fleet Bank, Washington Mutual, Sovereign Bank, First Union, Bank One, HSBC and credit reporting agencies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The National Association for the Deaf and the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) have a few recent victories as well, mostly against giant firms like Hilton Worldwide, Schwab, Netflix, and Target, who have all settled when judges rejected assertions that their websites were beyond the reach of the ADA.
There are nearly 10,000,000 visually impaired Americans and roughly 1.5 million users of assistive technologies, such as screen readers to access websites and communicate over the Internet. This is a large group of people that are very well organized with powerful trade groups.
Without showing any progress to move their websites towards ADA Compliance, financial institutions may risk regulatory intervention at the State or Federal level with the imposition of a corrective action plan and heavy fines. There is also the risk of advocacy groups filing complaints and suits for ADA non-compliance which may result in large settlements and unfavorable publicity for small community banks.
BankSITE® Services can put you on the fast track by designing, developing and hosting an ADA Compliant website within 30 days.
We have been helping hundreds of banks stay ahead of the technology curve, and now we can provide your financial institution with “peace of mind” knowing that your website has been certified to meet WCAG 2.0 Guidelines with the goal of continuing to maintain compliance standards as you make updates to your website to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The website that we create and host for your financial institution with our proactive ADA Accessibility Module will minimize the risk of accessibility litigation against your financial institution, and protect your public image. For more information, please contact us today.