A growing number of credit unions have been sued on the basis that their websites do not comply with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) because their websites are not accessible by the visually impaired. The lawsuits are being filed by firms that have either threatened a number of financial institutions with litigation over their websites or actually filed lawsuits. These lawsuits seek injunctive and equitable relief as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. In addition to these lawsuits numerous credit unions have received demand letters from plaintiffs’ counsel.
Demand letters threatening to file legal action were initially delivered to credit unions in the state of California; however, plaintiff firms have extended their efforts into hundreds of credit unions in multiple states. Credit unions in the following states have reported receiving demand letters:
In addition, some credit unions have also received letters from multiple plaintiff firms. It is expected that this trend will continue and impact credit unions in all states.
Until new laws are enacted or new regulations are issued, to reduce the risk of lawsuits, the League is recommending that credit unions take voluntary, affirmative action to improve website accessibility. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines address website accessibility issues in minute detail, addressing issues such as (1) text alternatives for photographs and graphics to be changed into usable formats for the visually impaired, (2) video accessibility via text and sequencing, (3) keyboard accessible content, (4) alternatives to time based media, (5) screen reading software, and other things.
The League and CUNA is actively working with the appropriate lawmakers and regulators to protect the interest of Nebraska credit unions in connection with these demands and lawsuits.