As ADA Turns 25, Public Accommodation Must Consider Accessible Technology

(Posted June 5, 2015)

Article by Joshua A. Stein, March 25, 2015
Excerpts from Brook Phillips, WDE Vision Outreach Services Consultant

Note: With the development of online curriculum, it is important for students to have access to information on the Internet.

July 26, 2015, is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This event will likely be celebrated with significant developments impacting the scope of coverage of Title III of the ADA.

Website accessibility: Generally, the division among courts has created three lines of thought:

The ADA must be read broadly to successfully achieve its purpose, allowing individuals with disabilities to fully and equally participate in society and, therefore, websites must be made accessible under Title III. The ADA must be read as it is written and, because “places of public accommodation” are plainly defined with an extensive list of solely physical locations, the ADA must be amended, or new regulations promulgated, before Title III can apply to websites

Title III applies to websites of places of public accommodation to the extent there is a nexus between the goods and services provided by the brick-and-mortar place of public accommodation and the website.

The U.S. Access Board continues to promulgate a revised version of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which addresses, in part, website accessibility for federal agencies and the contractors of federal agencies in certain contexts. Fortunately, there is a fairly clear path for those seeking guidance on how to make their websites accessible. Both the pending regulations and settlement agreements entered into by DOJ and advocacy groups generally define the appropriate level of website accessibility by referencing the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

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