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ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits

The California and Nevada League is hearing from credit unions that are being targeted by consumer rights attorneys regarding the accessibility of their websites (or lack thereof) to people with disabilities. Although there are not yet specific regulations addressing website accessibility, these consumer rights attorneys are relying on the general language of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to make demands and/or bring actions claiming that credit union websites are not equally accessible to people with disabilities.

Website Accessibility
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of goods or services “of any public accommodation.” This arguably includes those goods and services offered via websites. A typical demand or lawsuit, for example, will claim that the business’s website and the services it provides are not accessible to blind and visually impaired consumers, because they contain digital barriers which limit the ability of these individuals to use screen reading software and other assistive technology to access website content. Consumer rights attorneys rely on these “barriers” to equal accessibility to bring claims against businesses, including credit unions.

What Can Credit Unions Do To Get Ahead Of Potential Website ADA Violation Claims? 
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is in the process of revising ADA regulations to establish specific guidelines for what makes an accessible website. However, it is unknown when these regulations will be released.

Until then, there are basic guidelines on website accessibility that credit unions should follow to help make the credit union’s website more accessible to members and potential members with disabilities:

These guidelines should also help better prepare for what might be in store, regulation-wise, for credit union websites, and help prevent (where possible) ADA violation claims.

The League will continue to monitor this for further developments. In the meantime, if your credit union receives or has received a demand from a consumer rights attorney regarding website accessibility, immediately consult your credit union’s legal counsel. In addition, please provide information to League Vice President, Research & Collaboration Rita Fillingane at ritaf@ccul.org.

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