Small Business Owners – Beware of ADA Compliance

This blog post is to warn small businesses of a situation happening across the United States where law firms are trying to take advantage of small business owners. I want to share first hand my experience of how I was threatened and overcame a potential law suit / settlement.

I was sitting at my desk working away when an employee dropped off a FedEx overnight letter.  The letter was addressed to someone that didn’t work at the company and the return address was from a law firm.  My first thought through me head was, UGH! This can’t be good!

There was a document inside with the subject Re: Request for a Reasonable Accommodation to Access to your Website.  The letter started out like this: This letter is sent on behalf of client, ABC, who suffers from neuropathy, ataxia retinitis pigmentosa, or NARP.  As a result of this genetic disorder, this person lost all useful vision in 1986. Today, he is totally blind. He uses JAWS screen reader technology to navigate the Internet.  Screen reader “software translates the visual internet into and auditory equivalent. At a rapid pace, the software reads the content of a webpage to the user.”

Then the letter went on to talk about how our website www.SportsUnlimited.com is a service of public accommodation that must be accessible to screen ready technology pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  I’m thinking to myself, I have never heard of this, I’m angry, scared, and what the heck am I going to do.

On and on the letter went detailing items on our site that were not ADA compliant. The letter was extremely threatening!  The law firm said they would seek further action if we did not comply, quickly.

The law firm referred to the following standards… Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

After reading through the entire document, I started doing some research.  I did a quick google search on the law firm that sent the letter. Sure enough, many, many results appeared.  There were dozens of companies that had received the exact letter I received. This was basically a law firm out to get money from small businesses.  I don’t know if the plaintiffs mentioned in the letters are really people or not. Now, I’m really mad.

I contacted my attorney and shared the letter with him.  He did his research and found out that there was a ruling that was made and would make our site in need of being ADA compliant.  He asked that I start working on making our site ADA compliant.

After researching the web for a few hours I stumbled onto a company called Accessibe that claimed they could make your site ADA compliant within minutes.  I thought to myself, no way it’s that easy. I reached out to Accessibe and they shared a demo of the product and allowed us to test it on one page on our site. We tested it out and it worked great.  The next day the code was deployed on the entire site and just like that our site was ADA compliant. Accessibe designed and tested their software with the JAWS screen reader technology. Our site now has screen reader technology.

I responded to the letter I received from the attorney and told them our site is now ADA compliant back in February 2019 and I have not heard from them yet. Fingers crossed!

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