U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Representative John Sarbanes have jointly introduced a new bill—the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act (the Act)—to address barriers that Americans with disabilities encounter when attempting to use websites and apps. The Act proposes to codify digital accessibility requirements for websites and apps, set schedules for continuous accessibility-related rulemaking to keep up with technological changes, and establish organizations to serve as support structures to facilitate digital accessibility. If enacted, the Act would fill a hole left open by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has been interpreted by some (but not all) courts to apply to websites and apps.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced its intention to adopt rules setting forth web accessibility standards for state and local government entities, which are regulated under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If adopted, the rules would be the first of their kind under the ADA. The publication of this announcement may portend future action by the DOJ to adopt web accessibility requirements under Title III of the ADA, which covers a wide range of private businesses that provide goods and services to the public.…
On March 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new guidance (Web Accessibility Guidance) advising state and local governments and businesses open to the public on how to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities, based on the understanding that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to web content. The Web Accessibility Guidance represents the latest articulation of the DOJ’s position on this issue, and it may portend future regulatory enforcement and rulemaking activity in the web accessibility space.
Continue Reading Justice Department Issues ADA Web Accessibility Guidance
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has declined to reconsider its decision to vacate the trial court’s judgment in Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., ending litigation on one of the most significant website accessibility cases in the country. See our recent blog post regarding previous developments.
- On February 28, 2022, almost 200 advocacy groups, led by the American Council of the Blind and others, published a “Joint Letter to Enforce Accessibility Standards” to the head of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division.
In November and December 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice entered into settlement agreements with two private companies and one public entity addressing website accessibility, signaling increased enforcement activity in this area. This update provides more information about the settlement agreements and DOJ’s approach to website accessibility.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently vacated its April 2021 opinion holding that websites do not constitute places of public accommodations under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Prior to this decision, the Eleventh Circuit was the only federal circuit court of appeal to explicitly hold that Title III of the ADA does not apply to websites, although federal courts are split as to whether Title III extends only to websites with a “nexus” to a physical location or to stand-alone e-commerce sites.
- In 2021, as in other recent years, thousands of website accessibility cases were filed and an untold number of demand letters were received by businesses. Businesses should consider digital accessibility and ways to reduce risk of claims.
On April 7, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision in a closely watched web accessibility case, holding that websites do not constitute places of public accommodations under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The decision—Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.—represents a departure from what has been a trend toward increasingly expansive interpretations of the ADA, and it is likely to prompt renewed conversations regarding whether and how Congress or the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) should address the issue.
Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Rules that Websites Are Not Public Accommodations Under the ADA
President Biden has appointed Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as acting chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. In this role, she is expected to pursue the priorities of the new administration and begin to roll back many of the policies and rules adopted by the FCC during the Trump administration. In this client update, we…
- Shoppers continue to challenge mandatory mask policies under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- In one of the first decisions on the merits of these challenges, a court in the Western District of Pennsylvania held that the plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence for his claim that he should not have to wear a mask, and that, regardless, his request to shop without a mask was not reasonable when he also did not show that he could not wear a face shield or use alternative methods of shopping. The court declined to evaluate the store’s defense that its face covering policy is a legitimate safety requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the plaintiff posed a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
- The court’s decision in this case may prove to be a boon for retailers, as it demonstrates that plaintiffs seeking to challenge mandatory mask policies on ADA grounds may face hurdles where they lack documentation to substantiate disability claims or where they are given reasonable alternatives to the in-store shopping experience.
Over the past few years, we have seen increasing legislative and regulatory activity around the globe on the issue of digital accessibility. Most recently, the French government issued a new law and corresponding technical order (known as the General Accessibility Reference for Administrations, or RGAA) last year that impose a broad range of accessibility obligations…