ADA Website Compliance
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination based on disability in a place of public accommodation. With technology rapidly advancing, courts are finding that the term “place of public accommodation” may include websites or mobile applications.
In Pennsylvania, courts have held that a website may be a place of public accommodation if there is a relationship between the goods and services being offered and the website. Business owners must, therefore, take action to ensure their websites are ADA compliant.
Although neither the ADA nor the Department of Justice provide specific standards or regulations addressing ADA compliance for internet, website or mobile applications, on March 18, 2022, the Department of Justice published guidance on web accessibility and the ADA to assist the public in understanding how to ensure that websites are accessible to people with disabilities (the “ADA Website Guidance”). The ADA Website Guidance is available at https://www.ada.gov/resources/web-guidance/.
The ADA Website Guidance points to available technical standards that will assist businesses in ensuring accessibility of website features. These include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”). Generally, it is accepted that if a website follows the most current WCAG, it is likely the website is complaint under the ADA.
The WCAG is a set of guidelines for digital accessibility. These standards have been called for in demand letters, federal and state lawsuits, and Department of Justice actions. Currently, the working standard for digital accessibility is WCAG 2.1, but a WCAG 3 is in draft that will provide specific guidelines to make web content and applications accessible to people with disabilities.
The WCAG 3 is still pending and not set to be complete for a few years. Current website owners should review the requirements WCAG 2.1 available online at https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/.
Ensuring web accessibility for people with disabilities appears to be a priority for the Department of Justice. While it may seem expensive to make your business website ADA compliant, in the long run, this will reduce the threat of costly litigation and reputational risk.
The information contained herein is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog should be construed as legal advice from Shumaker Williams P.C. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. This blog is current as of the date of original publication.
February 13, 2023