BY RON BERG AND ERIC LIPTON
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990, it was long before the internet became an engrained part of everyday life. While early litigation focused on physical access, such as access to places of public accommodation such as stores and offices), claims today often take issue with online access barriers such as websites that are incompatible with screen-reading software.
In October 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Domino's appeal of a lower court ruling on an ADA website accessibility claim against the pizza company. With the Supreme Court and Congress failing to establish limitations on these types of claims to date, there has been a surge in ADA website accessibility litigation.
Given the circumstances, it is more important than ever to make sure your agency's website is sufficiently accessible to persons with disabilities. Although neither Congress nor the Department of Justice have yet established clear rules or regulations on what is required, many jurisdictions have looked to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 or 2.1, published by W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/), as the industry standard.
Some plaintiffs even use automated tools to search for websites that fail to meet these standards!