ADA PRACTICE TIPS
• The ADA prohibits discrimination against disabled
individuals in “places of public accommodation.”
• Websites have been interpreted to be “places of
public accommodation” for purposes of the ADA.
• A circuit court split has developed as to whether
a connection must exist between the website and
a physical storefront for a website to be a “place
of public accommodation.”
• Websites inaccessible to the blind or visually impaired
may violate the ADA.
An increasing number of class action lawsuits have been filed
over the past year against private companies by individuals
alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
for failure to maintain websites that are accessible to the
blind and visually impaired. In 2016 alone, approximately
250 lawsuits were filed by a handful of plaintiffs’ firms against
companies in the retail, hospitality, and financial services
industries alleging ADA violations related to website accessibility.
Most of these suits have resulted in settlements that, in addition
to the payment of some amount of financial remuneration to
the plaintiffs, require companies to make their websites ADA
compliant. The steady shift in our economy from traditional
brick-and-mortar stores to online commerce has brought
increased attention to website accessibility. Given the increasing
number of website accessibility suits, it is important for any
company that maintains a web presence that constitutes
a “place of public accommodation” to understand the
requirements of the ADA.