The true repercussions of failing ADA compliance.

Jul 12 2023

LA College pays out $240,000 - what were the internal costs, and ongoing distraction? With 96% of content presently failing and new laws on the horizon it's no wonder Education is a litigation top 3.

In May 2023, a jury in Los Angeles, California, awarded two blind students a little over $240,000.00 in their lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) – the largest college community in the nation.

A jury found that LACCD violated the ADA in 14 different ways and, in most cases, did so with deliberate indifference. The students, Portia Mason and Roy Payan claimed that course materials, web-based learning platforms and library materials, among other resources, were inaccessible to them as screen reader users when they were enrolled at district campuses between 2015 and 2018.

Jessie Weber, a partner at Brown Goldstein & Levy and co-leader of the legal team, said: “We are grateful that the jury held LACCD accountable for failing to provide an equal educational opportunity to blind students. We hope other institutions of higher learning will take heed: failing to ensure accessibility — including by maintaining inaccessible websites and educational resources—is unlawful discrimination.”

ADA compliance ensures that websites and online platforms are designed and developed in a way that accommodates the needs of blind individuals. This includes providing alternatives to visual content, such as text descriptions for images, audio descriptions for videos, and properly structured headings for screen readers to navigate the content effectively.

Visually impaired individuals should be able to browse the internet independently, access information, and engage in online activities without relying heavily on others for assistance, ensuring they can participate fully in the digital world.

ADA compliance is not only an ethical obligation but also a legal requirement for many businesses and organizations, with this case highlighting the scale of the legal consequences and potential lawsuits.

Education - now in the top 3

The latest report from Usablenet shows Education has entered the top 3 in terms of focus for litigation - perhaps one of the easier 'seen as softer' targets that offers rich pickings, especially those who vendors have offered compliance assurances, creating a false sense of security.

At AAAtraq we want to protect those who are taking their accessibility responsibilities seriously, ensuring they are not distracted by lawsuits and unexpected costs while they are focusing their efforts on making their digital channels more accessible. The first step is understanding exactly what you have across your digital landscape. As this case highlights, it is not just a website that needs to meet ADA regulations but all other digital assets, such as online learning platforms, library materials and such.

We remove todays overwhelming compliance burden and the distraction our clients face. We are with them throughout their compliance journey with our unique combination of automated compliance software with litigation support and cost coverage indemnity.

Insurance Pools?

With ADA litigation growing exponentially, do your members have an expectation of cover? With so much online, especially post COVID - pools may not be aware of their exposure and as it takes around 60 seconds to identify vulnerabilities (96% of content presently fails) profiling member Risk should be an action taken sooner rather than later (an example of a AAAtraq Risk Assessment - June audit of Higher Ed can be seen at https://aaatraq.com/index/higher-education/2023/06) (opens in a new window)

Further reading / coverage

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/quick-takes/2023/06/06/jury-sides-blind-students-against-la-community-college-district (opens in a new window)

https://www.lflegal.com/2023/05/blind-college-students-jury-verdict/ (opens in a new window)

https://www.legalreader.com/bgl-team-secures-240000-jury-verdict-for-blind-students-in-discrimination-lawsuit-against-the-los-angeles-community-college-district/ (opens in a new window)

https://www.silicon.co.uk/press-release/largest-community-college-district-in-the-us-los-angeles-community-college-district-deploys-yuja-enterprise-video-platform-and-yuja-verity-test-proctoring-platform-to-serve-more-than-200000-student (opens in a new window)

https://browngold.com/news/payan-mason-laccd-lawsuit-victory/ (opens in a new window)

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