In 2016, the number of lawsuits for digital accessibility increased dramatically. With the court cases and settlements of previous years, the message was loud and clear: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applied to digital accessibility and the Department of Justice (DOJ) was going to be enforce digital accessibility.
For those cases that made it to court, the prevailing question was whether an Internet site could be considered a “place of public accommodation,” a requirement under the ADA. Courts seemed split on this issue; some courts ruled that a website was subject to the digital accessibility standards implied in the ADA and others ruled that a physical location was required for the ADA to apply. (For example: a retail store which also sells goods on the web.) Still, many of the lawsuits have been settled out of court, so rulings on the merits have been scarce.
The other major development in 2016 was the push towards more digital accessibility regulations. Final rules were published for Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which provided that patients could not be discriminated against on the basis of disability. The European Union passed a new directive, requiring websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies to be accessible. Final rules were also published for the Section 508 refresh at the very beginning of 2017.
Avoiding a Lawsuit
If you are concerned about whether your websites and mobile apps are up to snuff, there is no reason to delay the process of bringing your websites up to date. Most issues that would trigger a lawsuit are known quantity, and can be corrected.
Since technology firms like SSB BART Group already have tools to bring your websites and apps into compliance with the law, it’s best to start the auditing process immediately. This allows you the time to take things at a more leisurely pace, and avoid the staffing costs of having to remediate on an abbreviated timeline, if your hand is forced by a lawsuit or complaint.
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Content provided by SSB BART Group is intended for general information and education. The materials and facts presented do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in the face of pending litigation. If you have specific legal questions, please contact a lawyer.