As a person with a disability, I place a high value on accessibility, including access to the digital world. I was particularly interested in a webinar which was held virtually on April 27, 2021, by
It was entitled “Crystal Ball 2021: Predictions for the ADA Title III Digital Accessibility Legal Landscape”. The moderator indicated during event that the webinar would be archived. However, I have been unable to locate an archive on the entity’s web site. In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned.
Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act focuses on businesses being accessible. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, applies to entities receiving federal funding. The ADA helps provide equality for Americans with disabilities in various areas. Places of public accommodation must have a physical facility, make modifications to policy to accommodate people with disabilities and provide effective communication. The presentation then focused on various court perspectives on web site accessibility.
Court Decisions and Web Site Accessibility Examples
Some courts have said a business does not need to make their web site accessible if there is not a physical location. Other courts decided a physical location is not required. Web sites are accessible in a variety of ways to accommodate people with a variety of disabilities. For example, people who are hard-of-hearing need captioning for videos. People who are blind need web sites to be accessible with screen readers. Some legal predictions were then made.
A presenter predicted some accessibility possibilities for the future. There might be more rule-making on the federal level about web site accessibility. There might also be more web accessibility lawsuits. Alternatively, there could be more accessibility technical assistance. It was pointed out that the future is not absolutely certain. The other presenter agreed that accessibility may become a priority at the federal level. The presenters, who represent a legal entity, then recommended their
After providing statistical ADA lawsuit data, the focus moved to summarizing some court cases.
Court Case Summaries
In one case, a court determined a web site needs to be accessible when a physical location exists. However, a telephone service is not necessarily an acceptable accommodation as an effective communication method. The Supreme Court chose not to review the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. In another court case, a business was not required to provide an accessible web site. A court in Virginia recently decided that businesses existing only online must be accessible to people with disabilities under Title III. Bottom line: As mentioned earlier, the issue of accessibility web sites is controversial from a legal perspective. However, accessibility can provide equal access to goods and services for people with disabilities.
Question for readers: As someone with a disability, what accessibility barriers have you encountered accessing information digitally? I shall return next week with another article.