Lawsuits claiming websites do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for accessibility frequently are being filed, causing businesses to seek advice on how to avoid costly litigation.

Places of public accommodation are required to comply with Title III of the ADA, and consumer-facing websites—according to the Department of Justice—also are deemed to be places of public accommodation. A first-time violation of the ADA could carry fines up to $75,000.

But being in compliance remains tricky as the DOJ has yet to set its own rules for compliance. In 2010 they issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, but does not plan to proceed on that process until 2018.

Most of the complaints to date have been levied against real estate companies or higher education institutions, with plaintiffs claiming they are unable to use the website for a specific topic. And while the validity of the claims been viewed as questionable, it hasn’t deterred plaintiffs from filing lawsuits.

"We're clearly in a state of flux," Okubadejo said. "The DOJ is also taking the position in litigation that there are current obligations to make websites accessible. It's a very difficult position for businesses to be in."

Despite that state of flux, Okubadejo said that there is enough direction for businesses to proceed with confidence. Although the department has not proposed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as the official standard, it has been consistent with its position that businesses should adhere to it, and those businesses that do should be able to at least make the argument that they have made good-faith efforts to comply.

Okubadejo said that businesses should also look into making forward-looking efforts by doing things such as making agreements with third-party web developers that require ADA compliance and setting internal and public-facing policies that allow people to request accommodations under the ADA if they are needed.

"There is no rule on the issue, but the DOJ is requiring businesses to make websites accessible," Okubadejo said. "There is a standard businesses could and should be following at this point."