What is an ADA demand letter?
A standard demand letter is a letter from an attorney on behalf of a client. The letter requests some form of restitution. If the recipient does not respond, the next step could be filing a lawsuit.
An ADA demand letter typically demands the business to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It’s sent to businesses with a website or app that does not comply with ADA or ensure equal access by following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.
An ADA demand letter is usually the first step in getting a business to make its website or app accessible. When a business ignores the letter, it can lead to a lengthy lawsuit or an expensive settlement.
“I received a demand letter. What should I do?”
Take a deep breath and don’t ignore the letter. Start by consulting with an attorney or legal counsel. Ignoring will not make it go away.
Since there is generally a deadline for demand letters, you want to make sure they are a high priority. Try to resolve the issues or run the risk of going to court.
Your attorney will review the demand letter and discuss a response. If you have any contracts from working with a web development company or contracted web designers and graphic designers, share those with the attorney.
Find and work with accessibility experts who can test your website or app against WCAG criteria and provide a list of issues on the site. This should not be a one-page overview of what was found. You want a comprehensive report that identifies the issues that prevent a person with disabilities from using your website, product, or app. The report should also advise on how to fix the issues.
Ongoing maintenance of a website or app is a continuous process. It is not a “fix this and it will never happen again” type fix. Some companies have been sued more than once because they did not ensure their products, websites, and apps remained accessible.
Companies that are successful in maintaining an accessible website, products, and apps are proactive. They engage accessibility experts to review their site, products, and apps. They also develop and implement an accessibility and inclusion policy for the organization.
Many companies pay the price of litigation forgoing the investment of creating accessible products, websites, and apps. Which leads to recurring demand letters.
What’s the next step?
Regardless of what happens, experts recommend an audit using WCAG criteria in evaluating apps, products, and websites. This gives you a report card — called a WCAG Conformance Statement — of how your websites, products, and apps are doing in achieving accessibility.
You’ll use this report card as a starting point to fix the problems and create an ongoing accessibility program. Accessibility isn’t something you fix once. It’s a continuing part of the design process.
Before moving forward with the fixes, talk to your attorney. You want to avoid any hint of destroying evidence.