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Level Access asks, “Is Congress likely to take action on the ADA?”

Rishi Agrawal 02/13/18

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Digital accessibility is a constantly changing area of law. There are no explicit regulations for private companies and although we have dozens of court decisions, many of those decisions contradict each other.
 

Even though no one can be completely sure what the future holds for digital accessibility, we can make some educated guesses. At the tail end of 2017, we asked eight leading attorneys to dust off their Magic 8-Balls and give us their best predictions of where the law may be headed.

Is Congress likely to take action on the ADA?

With the sheer number of lawsuits and demand letters being generated in the name of digital accessibility, we often see the lawsuits being called “frivolous” by the popular media. A Congressional act could limit lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One bill, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, would limit the ability of plaintiffs to file lawsuits with regards to physical accessibility. Instead, businesses would be given time to remediate their facilities after a complaint is issued. Though nothing similar is currently in the works for digital accessibility, could the ADA, as a whole, land on Congress’s radar?

“The prospect for legislation is uncertain at this point. There is concern on both sides of the political spectrum about abusive lawsuits, but less agreement on the manner in which the problem should be addressed. Neither side is adverse to accessibility for individuals with disabilities. It is just a question of addressing the abuse without undermining the rights of individuals with disabilities who have legitimate claims.”
Teresa Jakubowski, Partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP


“In Congress, the most likely course is a broader-based push to stop drive-by lawsuits. They could translate the old notice and cure legislation into something that would require, for example, notice and specific evidence that an individual has been harmed, and particularly take the Supreme Court’s Spokeo standard of standing. There have been so many people complaining about drive-by litigation over the years, and digital accessibility is just the latest bandwagon that plaintiffs are jumping on. If the business community is not crying about it and somebody isn’t taking it up as a major issue, that’s not going to be on Congress’s radar screen. In general, the ADA has been the third rail of politics. No one wants to touch it.”
Robert L. Duston, Partner, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr


“I think the only thing you can say for certain is that companies can’t sit around and wait for regulations anymore. They can’t say they’re just waiting for the regulations to come out because they’re going to be waiting forever.”
Kristina Launey, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Want to Learn More?Download Whitepaper

Deregulation, legislation, court cases? There are so many variables, but we’ve got it covered. To find answers to all of your burning digital accessibility legal questions, download our whitepaper – The Digital Accessibility Crystal Ball.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.