I was wrong.

I hate saying that. I go out of my way to be right. But this time, I was way off.

I made a prediction about how many federal web accessibility lawsuits would be filed in 2018. This was back in January. I used actual numbers for 2015 and 2016. For 2017, I had the numbers through August.

I estimated that 2017 would end with about 650 lawsuits filed. And the range I gave for 2018 was 1300 to 1800.

I was uncomfortable saying 1800. I looked for a more conservative formula to come up with a lower number. That’s where I got the 1300.

I made a video. I put it in marketing messages.

And then I softened that number even more. When I posted My top web design concern for 2018, I dropped the number to 1200.

Yesterday, Fox Business had a segment on web accessibility lawsuits. And the numbers shocked me. Not “I can’t believe they used almond milk when I asked for soy” shocked. Full blown jaw-dropping shock.

The real numbers

numbers written in neon on the wallI was uncomfortable with my prediction because I thought it was way too high. I thought 1800 lawsuits was an unbelievable number. But it was the opposite. I underestimated.

See for yourself. Here are the numbers:

2015 – 57 lawsuits
2016 – 262
2017 – 814
2018 (Jan – Jun) – 1053

How will 2018 end? 2106 lawsuits?

Sources:

2015-16: http://www.seyfarth.com/publications/RD082517-LE
2017-18: https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/company-websites-that-arent-ada-compliant-becoming-litigation-targets

What does that mean, Josh?

Take a second and look at that growth. In another year, web accessibility lawsuits could become some lawyers full-time job.

We could see crappy commercials for it on TV. “Have you or someone you care about been unable to use a website due to a disability? Call the lawyers at….” Halfway through 2018 and they’ve nearly matched the filings for the previous 3 years combined.

Growth like this could continue for another 3 or 4 years and odds will still be against your business being sued. But if you get sued, you’ll lose.

Your options

Young man in suit

If it goes to court, only the lawyers come out on top.

Your options are pretty simple.

Option 1: Fix your website.

Option 2: Don’t fix your website. If your luck holds, you won’t get sued. No lawsuit. No problem. But you’re a jerk.

Option 3: Don’t fix your website. Get sued. Pay for your lawyer. Pay for their lawyer. Pay court costs. And then fix your website. And you’re a jerk.

More information

I recommend watching the Fox Business segment. (Here’s the web accessibility segment link again.) It makes a lot of good points but has a couple questionable points.

A few comments regarding the segment:

“It’s a money grab.”

Some people are just after money. But many people have legitimate complaints.

“You can’t fix this yourself.”

Correct. But some of the issues are user-level mistakes. You could fix those problems with a little bit of training. Not all issues are that simple.

“Wildly expensive”

Maybe. Winn Dixie said it would cost them around $250,000 to update their website. But if you have a small website that was professionally built, you may only need to spend a few hundred dollars. That could cover some adjustments to the website and some training for you. (Every website must be considered on its own.)

Next

Take a look at your website. Run it through the Website Accessibility Evaluation Tool http://wave.webaim.org/  It isn’t perfect but it was built by the folks that set web accessibility standards.

And when in doubt get help. There are some aspects of accessibility that the WAVE won’t or can’t catch. There are false positives and false negatives as well. If you have a “web guy”, give them a call. If you need someone, give me a call.