ADA Lawsuits are Coming to the Internet
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits businesses from discriminating against persons with disabilities. All businesses must modify their physical facilities and policies to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to receive the same or similar products and services as those who do not have disabilities. But what about businesses that are predominately on the Internet? Have you ever thought about whether the ADA can be applied to websites? How can someone who has a visual impairment access a business that relies upon a website?
This issue was recently addressed when the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) brought ADA discrimination claims against H&R Block claiming that their website and mobile applications were not usable by persons with visual disabilities. Throughout the history of the ADA there have been previous unsuccessful attempts to apply the ADA to websites of businesses that also had brick and mortar stores, not to mention the litigation that arose trying to interpret the act. To date, those efforts have still been unsuccessful. Now however, the DOJ is taking the position that businesses that receive a substantial portion of their income on the Internet must make their websites and mobile applications accessible to persons with visual disabilities.
What does this mean for most businesses? At this point in time, it probably means nothing. However, there is a movement afoot to make government websites accessible to persons with visual disabilities. It is all but a given that the movement will eventually transition to the public sector. One such way they plan to make websites more accessible is with a read out loud cursor system. The system will be built into a business’s website and will make the site more user-friendly towards those with disabilities. In that regard, owners and operators of businesses with websites and mobile applications need to start preparing for the time and expense of modifying their Internet product so that persons with disabilities can fully enjoy and use them. The technology for doing this is in its infancy, but eventually all websites and mobile applications will be user-friendly and accessible to persons with visual disabilities.
For businesses that are interested in obtaining legal advice on ADA issues, contact an experienced attorney that will be able to assist you and your business in correcting or preventing any ADA issues.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles