Title III of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) is all about ensuring that places of public accommodation are accessible to people with disabilities. Is the Internet a place of public accommodation? That is the question that has been asked over the past few years and argued about in court.
Today there is no specific published technical recommendation that defines how the ADA is applied to the Internet but many public and private sector organizations have been sued for the inaccessibility of their websites under the ADA.
The Department of Justice’s public position was clarified in the following statement made during the Netflix case:
"The Department is currently developing regulations specifically addressing the accessibility of goods and services offered via the web by entities covered by the ADA. The fact that the regulatory process is not yet complete in no way indicates that web services are not already covered by title III."
— Statement of Interest of the United States Department of Justice in NAD v. Netflix (page 10)
What should you do to comply with the ADA for your website?
We recommendation that organizations comply with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level A and AA. Why?
- In looking at the recent lawsuits and settlement agreements relating to website accessibility, many have been settled requiring the website to meet the WCAG 2.0 A or AA guidelines, Section 508 or a mix of both.
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is currently undergoing a refresh and the ANPRM on the Section 508 Refresh indicates that the new standards will require WCAG 2.0 level AA compliance.
- The U.S. Department of Justice is currently in the rulemaking process for Title III of the ADA and is expected to issue new regulations on website accessibility by December 2013. In the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) relating to Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations, the Department of Justice indicates that they are considering the WCAG 2.0 A and AA requirements as the requirements for websites and web-based applications.
- The W3C WCAG 2.0 is an ISO International Standard (ISO/IEC 40500:2012). Many countries are now adopting these guidelines as their standards for accessibility and the U.S. is looking to do the same to harmonize with the rest of the world.
If you have questions or would like a free accessibility consultation, please send us an email or call us at 978-443-0798.