Car dealerships are usually familiar with the compliance challenges that come with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are aware of the need to be accommodating to employees who have disabilities to make sure there are no barriers to their job.
More advanced dealerships may even know how ADA applies to their customers. As a public place of business, they make sure that there is proper parking, accessible bathrooms, and ramps for accessibility.
There is one ADA liability, though, that most car dealerships are completely unaware of: website compliance.
Websites Are Essential for Accessibility
Although the passage of ADA predated the internet boom, it is starting to have an incredible impact on how businesses conduct themselves online. The internet has become indispensable to modern life, and, as a result, the need for inclusion and accessibility has gone digital.
Lawsuits and demand letters are skyrocketing in recent years, demanding that websites and apps need to be accessible to users with disabilities. Not doing so, they state, is a violation of Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination based on a disability in places of public accommodations.
For a while, many of these lawsuits were settled outside of court to avoid mounting legal fees and bad publicity. Recently, organizations have started to fight back against the suits and take it to the courtroom.
The rulings have not been in favor of businesses, though. Courts have mostly agreed with disability advocates. Some notable legal moves include:
- Grocery chain Winn-Dixie lost the first court case over website compliance in 2017. The judge ordered them to set aside $250,000 to update their website.
- Domino’s Pizza was recently denied a hearing by the Supreme Court, upholding the lower court’s ruling against the fast-food chain.
- The Department of Justice released a statement acknowledging that the ADA applies to websites as well.
If dealerships do not take the time to create an inclusive website purposefully, they will likely lose any case brought against them.
Accessibility Lawsuits Sweeping Across the Nation
How likely is it that a dealership will get sued for digital inaccessibility?
It turns out that it gets more likely all the time. Lawsuits have not just grown in recent years: they have exploded, and they continue to grow each year exponentially. In 2018, the number of federal website accessibility lawsuits tripled. As the need for accessible internet becomes more vital for navigating the world, suits are becoming more aggressive, as well.
How to Make Your Website Compliant
The issue that many companies are running into, though, is that there are no legal guidelines that specify what compliance with Title III looks like online. They are confused about where to start and worry about a lawsuit.
There are steps that you can take to protect your dealership from a potential lawsuit:
- Audit your website to test for issues. Unless you built your website with accessibility in mind, it likely has weaknesses. We offer a free ADA scan to help get you on the right path to compliance.
- Based on the results of the audit, work with a professional for website remediation to fix the weak points to allow accessibility.
- Continue to monitor your website. As you add or adjust the content, make sure that it remains compliant.
- Offer help to your users. The technology that aids users with disabilities is all different, and they may need help. Having someone they can contact will also help remove liability.
- Document your process. This will help ensure that your employees continue to keep a compliant website even if other employees leave or they are prone to forget.
Website compliance is not something organizations should try to figure out alone. A mistake could mean a costly lawsuit. Adally can take the weight of website accessibility off your shoulders. Reach out to one of our experts today to find out the next step you need to make for a compliant website.