September 21, 2019

Fortune Speaks with Tom Barton about Website ADA Violations and Compliance

In their coverage of the class action lawsuit involving Beyoncé Knowles’ official website being sued for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations, Fortune turned to Philadelphia partner Tom Barton to discuss the growing trend of class action lawsuits involving alleged website accessibility violations of the ADA.

In January 2019, Beyoncé Knowles’ company, Parkwood Entertainment, became the defendant in a class-action lawsuit alleging that it violated the ADA. The suit, filed by a blind woman from New York, claimed that the company’s website, Beyonce.com, did not provide accommodation for people with significant vision impairments, leaving an estimated 2 million blind people and others with vision impairments unable to access the primary portal for news involving the artist.

The article highlighted a recent report that showed the first half of 2019 saw a 12% increase in ADA Title III lawsuits filed in federal court over the same period in 2018.

“Quite frankly, it’s become a cottage industry among plaintiffs’ attorneys,” said Barton. “They will send out demand letters based on a publicly available website where they can run a pretty rudimentary test. It’s almost never 100% compliant, even if the business makes attempts to make it compliant,” and the risk extends beyond websites to possibly include all digital assets—everything from email correspondence and social media to internal portals and even video games.

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