You may be surprised to know that if your website is not accessible to the visually and hearing impaired you are currently in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, otherwise known as the ADA. That’s right—the Department of Justice (DOJ) has deemed websites within the scope of the ADA and a flood of demand letters have been overwhelming businesses ever since. What does this mean exactly? This means that your website needs to be equally accessible to the visually and hearing-impaired as those without disabilities or else you could face costly lawsuits from customers, employees, and the DOJ.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.” Places of “public accommodation” are defined by the ADA as including over 5 million private establishments such as, restaurants, hotels, theaters, convention centers, retail stores, shopping stores, laundromats, doctor’s offices, and many more. The language of the ADA led business owners, and even many courts, to believe that in order to be a “public accommodation” covered under the ADA, it needed to be a physical location of business. Unfortunately, the NBA, Target, Patagonia, Ace Hardware, Bed Bath & Beyond, J.C. Penney, Home Depot and many other corporations can attest to just how misguided this belief was.