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Recent Lawsuits and Articles

Is Web Accessibility a Legal Requirement?

The Department of Justice first articulated its interpretation that the ADA applies to public accommodations’ websites over 20 years ago. This interpretation is consistent with the ADA’s title III requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities.

Additionally, the Department has consistently taken the position that the absence of a specific regulation does not serve as a basis for noncompliance with a statute’s requirements.

Judge Jack Weinstein in Andrews v. Blick Art Materials

The “broad mandate” of the ADA and its “comprehensive character” are resilient enough to keep pace with the fact that the virtual reality of the Internet is almost as important now as physical reality alone was when the statute was signed into law...“the fact that a statute can be applied in situations not expressly anticipated by Congress does not demonstrate ambiguity. It demonstrates breadth.

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Court Summary of Domino’s Pizza opinion

Moreover, since it announced its position in 1996, DOJ has “repeatedly affirmed the application of [T]itle III to Web sites of public accommodations.” 75 Fed. Reg. 43460-01, 43464 (July 26, 2010). Thus, at least since 1996, Domino’s has been on notice that its online offerings must effectively communicate with its disabled customers and facilitate “full and equal enjoyment” of Domino’s goods and services.

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Eleventh Circuit’s Decision

The failure to allow individuals who are blind or limited vision to access information about store locations or purchase Dunkin’ Donuts cards online, when that functionality is available to individuals without disabilities, “can be said to exclude, deny, or otherwise treat blind people differently than other individuals.” 

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Judge John F. Walter, U.S. District Judge

For over 20 years, the DOJ has consistently maintained that the ADA applies to private websites that meet the definition of a public accommodation

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Number Of Federal Website Accessibility Lawsuits Nearly Triple

As we had predicted, the number of website accessibility lawsuits (i.e. lawsuits alleging that plaintiffs with a disability could not use websites because they were not coded to work with assistive technologies like screen readers, or otherwise accessible to them) filed in federal court under Title III of the ADA exploded in 2018 to at least 2258 – increasing by 177% from 814 such lawsuits in 2017.

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Defendants Fighting Website Accessibility Cases Face An Uphill Battle In 2018

2018 has been a bad year for most businesses that have chosen to fight website accessibility cases filed under Title III of the ADA.  Plaintiffs filing in federal court secured their second judgment on the merits in a website accessibility lawsuit, bringing the federal court judgment score to 2-0 in their favor.  Additionally, in twenty-one cases where defendants filed early motions to dismiss, judges have allowed eleven to move forward.  

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50 Colleges Hit With ADA Lawsuits

The 50 lawsuits, filed in November, say the colleges are in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, as their websites are not accessible to people with disabilities. Camacho uses a screen reader and said he experienced barriers when trying to access the colleges' websites.

Despite the court cases being filed in New York's Southern District, the institutions targeted are located all over the country. Almost all are private colleges, universities or conservatories, and include large research universities such as Northeastern University and Drexel University.

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Lawsuits targeting business websites over ADA violations are on the rise

The boutique Avanti Hotel is known for its poolside, dog-friendly rooms. Yet its website uses the valuable opening page not to highlight the Palm Springs inn’s amenities, but to explain, in stark black letters on a plain white background, that the Avanti violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Like thousands of other businesses in the United States, the 10-room hotel on East Stevens Road has been sued because it hasn’t fully complied with the 1990 law that requires public places — hotels, restaurants and shops — to be accessible to people with disabilities.

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