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Scare Tactics?

A company in Chicago sent my client a threatening letter about their site.

     
4:20 pm on Aug 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hi y'all:

Looooooong time reader, first time poster.

Yesterday one of my clients was sent a certified letter from a firm in Chicago (which I'm guessing I should not name) saying, essentially, that their site is not in compliance with the ADA (specifically, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act) and, as such, could be subject to litigation. The second page of the letter lists all the ways my client's site is in violation and links to the appropriate guideline in the Act. Then, of course, they go on to say that they'd be happy to use their proprietary software to save my client from such a horrible fate, so please call them ASAP.

In my mind this is a pretty sleazy way to do business, and my colleague and I basically called BS on the whole thing, but I wonder if anyone else has had this experience. I'm going to work to make sure my client's site has ALT text, input fields are properly labeled, etc. Have any of you or your clients received this letter/extortion attempt?

Thank you!
6:34 pm on Aug 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Never heard of this one before. Sounds like an SEO company that cannot get SEO business so they are trying a different approach.

Before: "WE REVIEWED YOUR SITE AND IT DOESN'T RANK WELL IN SEARCH ENGINES. YOU ARE LOOSING BUSINESS! We can fix that..."

Now: "WE REVIEWED YOUR SITE AND IT DOESN'T COMPLY WITH ADA ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS. YOU MAY GET SUED! We can fix that..."

Marshall
6:39 pm on Aug 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Even better, now that I've read more about Section 508, the Amendment to the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, I've learned that it only concerns websites run by federal agencies or entities funded by the government (contractors, etc.). I'm not one to go around calling people liars, but, well, I smell smoke, and I'm pretty sure it's coming from these guys' pants.

I'm with you, Marshall. Thanks for the reply!
6:44 pm on Aug 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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However, if you can make your site comply with the majority of 508 you'll not inconvenience your disabled customers so much.
6:52 pm on Aug 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I agree completely. Thing is, the site really isn't noncompliant. There are likely some ways we can improve, but we paid attention to that from the word go. If you're trying to run a business, you don't want to make things difficult for anyone. It's common sense.
2:39 pm on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Sounds fake to me, too.
10:36 pm on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've learned that it only concerns websites run by federal agencies or entities funded by the government


Tell that to Target

- [news.cnet.com...]
- [jimthatcher.com...]

Note that the law was not really settled here. The case was not dismissed, but it was not judged either. It also did not set off a wave of suits, but it was a shot over the bow that if you have a site, and it's not accessible, you could be sued and the court will not necessarily dismiss your case. If you're Target, it could cost you $6,000,000 and the costs of retooling your site.
7:54 am on Sept 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Look at "access-board(dot)gov/sec508/guide/act.htm"
On about the 4th line it says the following:
"It does not apply to web pages of private industry."
Get your lawyer to send the idiots a notification that you intend suing them for harassment, misrepresentation, extortion, enterprise corruption and anything else you can think of.
Grab a beer, sit back and watch the panic and fireworks.
You might even be able to make some profit out of it.
9:28 am on Sept 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I too would say that it is just another tactic of squeezing some money from website owners. And it is very clever on their part t mention some sections just to scare the owners and to give it a legal feel, which of course is not there.