Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) include websites as places of public accommodation?
Courts have not clarified the issue, but more people are testing it. According to attorneys Joseph J. Lynett and Jamerson C. Allen of Jackson Lewis, more than 260 lawsuits were filed over website accessibility last year.
As they pointed out in this article, the ADA prohibits discrimination against the disabled in public places and commercial facilities. In effect, this means that all types of businesses have to provide what the law calls “reasonable modifications” to its business policies to serve customers with disabilities.
But the ADA was enacted before the internet. The courts seem to be convinced that websites are covered by the law; the rules, however, let alone clear rules, on how to make websites accessible under the ADA have yet to be established.
Regulations are expected next year, but until then, businesses with websites may find themselves in a difficult position.