Out-of-state law firms target websites in South Dakota

Published: Nov. 1, 2016 at 9:45 PM CDT
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Out-of-state law firms known for suing hundreds of businesses across the country for websites they claim don't meet ADA standards are targeting people in South Dakota.

Lawyers with Davenport Evans in Sioux Falls are working with Click Rain to protect South Dakotans by educating them about what they can do to protect themselves from litigation.

Attorney Tiffany Miller, says businesses are in a vulnerable position.

Currently the US Department of Justice has no regulations when it comes to website ADA accessibility,

but there is language in the Americans with Disabilities Act that says a business cannot discriminate against an individual with a disability with an inaccessible website.

While many people might not know what to do to become ADA compliant, these out-of-state law firms have a case if a person with a disability cannot access a website.

“These plaintiffs firms are running tests on their websites that can show whether or not there are barriers for individuals with disabilities and if barriers exist they're just generating these demand letters or lawsuits automatically,” Miller explained.

The firm has clients who have already received this kind of letter.

“They want to respond to the letter. We advise clients not to simply ignore the letter. They should take action,” Miller said.

Violations come in several different forms.

“What it really comes down to is usability issues, making sure that people with certain impairments, hearing impairments, visual impairments, colorblindness, can access a site and use a site in the same way someone without those impairments might be able to do,” Click Rain ceo Paul Ten Haken explained.

Miller says businesses can end up paying thousands of dollars in litigation, so she's urging people to take a proactive approach.

“They need to move ADA compliance from the back burner to front burner so that they can take steps right now to ensure that they don’t get one of these demand letters or a lawsuit is not commenced against them,” Miller stated.

Miller says the Department of Justice is expected to release regulations addressing website accessibility sometime in 2018.