2023 Accessibility Lawsuits

David Gibson over at Accessibility Works released the accessibility lawsuit statistics for 2023. He gathers together all the information and puts together the stats. I was particularly interested in this because I am the only Accessibility expert in the area. It’s a big area. Most importantly I want to see the stats of people being sued for using one of those accessibility overlays. I’ve written about this before in my article The Truth About Accessibility Overlays.

Website Lawsuits

There were about 4000 lawsuits against websites in 2022. Around 15% of them were targeted for using an “accessible” overlay.

Here are some quick stats for lawsuits against websites that used an accessibility overlay.







Begin the Research

Before the company I worked at downsized from 18 people down to 5, I was one of 3 developers. And the only one who knew anything about being Accessible. In 2022 I was asked to outline the steps and sample pricing of what it would take to get a client’s website compliant with WCAG 2.1 standards. I outlined the 3 phases of course. Because naturally I can’t price out remediation until I know what problems there are. And some sites were so old that they couldn’t simply be fixed. They had to be rebuilt. My boss wasn’t too pleased that there wasn’t a quick solution to this problem. He wanted an easy answer like “20 hours, boss!” Nope sorry.

Price of Audits and Remediation

Then it came down to pricing. I found every web company in the Central Valley of California that I could find. Then, I listed them all in a document and noted what they charged for this type of work. I found 35 different companies. Only 4 of them offered any type of web accessibility services, and when they did, they were just selling a white label version of Accessibe overlay. Which means, quick and easy passive income. The client pays for the overlay and the web development company gets a cut.

I had to expand my search to all of California, then outwards into the entire United States. There really aren’t that many people who know how to do this and do it right. Actually, I only found 2 other companies at the time. It’s expensive! I listed out the sample pricings for my boss and never heard back from him on the subject. Please note, I sent him all this information along with the statistics on lawsuits. So, he knew about the issues with accessible overlays.

1 month later I was let go.

Why Are People Using Overlays?

Almost immediately after being let go I saw that stupid little accessible overlay icon on the bottom of the company’s website. You know the one…

My heart sank. A year later I decided to go check on the websites I’ve built, and sure enough, they are paying for that overlay. Their websites were already compliant! Now, they aren’t. It’s costing them an addition $699 a year minimum to become a target of a lawsuit.

So, why do people use overlays? Because web design companies are too lazy or too cheap to train or hire knowledgeable staff. Why would they when they can make easy passive income? “Passive income” is a word I’ve heard so much from digital agency’s that it makes my eye twitch every time I hear it. If a company offers you the option to add an overlay, run!