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ADA is celebrating 30 years of what it means to you

On that day in 1990, President George HW Bush signed the “Americans With Disabilities Act” (Public Law 101-336), and it is one of his enduring legacies. The bill was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin, who spoke on the bill in sign language so that his deaf brother would understand it.

This year was also the year of the first website and web browser, so few could have foreseen how this new law would apply to this new technological frontier. By 2003, the Justice Department concluded that the ADA extended to websites of companies offering goods or services that fall into ADA’s 12 public accommodation categories. A development regulation process began, but the Trump administration ended that effort in late 2017.

However, that decade has seen an explosion of legal proceedings alleging websites are not ADA compliant. An analysis by Seyfarth Shaw reports the following increase in federal lawsuits:

2017 2018 2019 2020 *
number 814 2.258 2.256 2.112

* The 2020 numbers are a forecast based on the total numbers through March.

A leading case in this area is Robles v Domino’s Pizza, LLC 913 F.3d 898, 905-906 (9 Cir. 2019), in which the Ninth Circuit rejected Domino’s argument that the ADA was limited to physical spaces only.

The inclusion of web sites associated with a physical location of public housing is in line with not only the plain language of Title III, but also the mandate of Congress that the ADA keep pace with technological change to achieve the intent of the Statute .

The Supreme Court declined to hear Domino’s appeal. This is currently the prevailing standard in the appellate courts of the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 11th districts.

In 2020, the California attorney general included accessibility in the proposed final California consumer protection regulations that require privacy notices

Be reasonably accessible to consumers with disabilities. Made available for communications
Online, the company must follow generally accepted industry standards, such as:
the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.1 dated June 5, 2018, from the
World Wide Web Consortium, to which reference is hereby expressly made. In other
In this context, the company must provide information on how a consumer interacts with a
A disability can access the message in an alternate format.

Information about the guidelines for web content accessibility can be found here.

In addition, ADA.gov provides a checklist for website accessibility.

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