• Website Accessibility: Businesses Still Must Worry About ADA
  • October 4, 2017 | Authors: Marjorie A. Corwin; Christopher R. Rahl
  • Law Firm: Gordon Feinblatt LLC - Baltimore Office
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) has categorized as “inactive” the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website rulemaking. However, this should not cause credit unions to delay making websites accessible to disabled individuals. The ADA has not changed and this law mandates that "[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation …." 42 U.S.C. §12182(a). There has been a significant increase in private lawsuits that claim websites violate the ADA. Hundreds of cases have been filed – with many being filed in just the past three months. In the absence of federal regulations, courts are making decisions, and nearly all of these courts have let the cases proceed past motions to dismiss. The absence of DOJ regulations has not been an effective defense in the vast majority of cases. Interestingly, in an amicus brief filed July 19, 2017 by DOJ with the Supreme Court, DOJ seems to be taking a less aggressive view of ADA obligations than previously. The amicus brief addressed ADA responsibilities of vending machine suppliers. While the brief asserts that vending machines are not in and of themselves public accommodations and, therefore, not necessarily subject to ADA accessibility obligations, DOJ expressly recognized that questions “concerning [ADA] Title III’s application to non-physical establishments – including websites or digital services – may someday warrant this [Supreme] Court’s attention.” Perhaps, under the current administration, the federal government will not aggressively pursue ADA website claims, but we predict the private lawsuits and demand letters will not stop any time soon. An outline of action steps to improve a website’s accessibility for individuals with disabilities can be found here.