What’s more expensive than getting sued over inaccessibility?

Getting sued *twice* over the same (or different) inaccessibility

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC


Photo by explorenation # on Unsplash

Authors note: Because of Medium’s refusal to address its accessibility issues for both authors and readers, I’ve moved my last three years of blogs to Substack. Please sign up there for notices of all new articles. Also, I will be updating older articles (like this one) and the updates will only be published on Substack. Thank you for your continued readership and support.

One of the most interesting new findings in the annual Usablenet accessibility lawsuit report is that 21 % of accessibility lawsuits in 2019 were against companies who have been previously sued. This number depends a bit depending on industry, retail is experiencing 40% repeat lawsuits. There are three likely sources for repeat accessibility lawsuits.

  1. Companies not continuing to internally enforce accessibility after the pain and cost of the initial lawsuit is over
  2. The “Hooters” effect (explained more in detail below)
  3. Companies reaching settlement agreements and then getting into an ongoing dispute (from the plaintiff’s perspective) over the defendant’s failure to fix accessibility issues in the manner (or timeframe) identified in the settlement agreement.

Infrastructure Accessibility and Content Accessibility are NOT the same

Infrastructure accessibility pertains to accessibility of page templates, such as:

  • Skip to content Link
  • Elements that show up on every page (footer links, search bar, menus)
  • Anything related to navigation

The idea is that infrastructure shows up on every page, and except for bug fixes, changes relatively slowly and almost always involves code changes.

Content accessibility pertains to anything that can be updated via a content management system without changing code, such as:

  • Text, articles, links in the middle of articles
  • Colors associated with carousel updates or hero image replacement
  • Multimedia



Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.