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.
What’s in the future of case law?
One area where the attorneys had differing opinions is whether the cases we’ve seen so far set any kind of precedent for future decisions. Robert L. Duston of Saul Ewing, LLP mentions a 2016 non-digital accessibility case from the U.S. Supreme Court, Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, where the court held that in order to bring a lawsuit, a plaintiff must show that they were harmed by the defendant and the injury must be “both concrete and particularized.”
“I actually think that the most significant trend that we’re going to see in ADA and Section 504 is not coming out of the Department of Justice or other federal agencies, but the Supreme Court decision, Spokeo, Inc v. Robins. This was not an ADA case, but it was a case on Constitutional standing and what ‘injury-in-fact’ actually means. I think we’re going to see a significant increase in federal courts being very receptive to the idea that unless a plaintiff can show that they were actually harmed in some way and prevented from shopping or prevented from accessing goods and services or participating in because of a clear barrier–and will be prevented in the future— they are not going to be able to state a claim. The contention that you can just encounter a barrier and know that it will interfere because you have a disability is not going to be enough. As far as digital access, a plaintiff will have to explain how the particular elements or functionality that did not meet WCAG 2.0 hindered their ability to shop online or to access good or services. If a blind person is trying to shop online, are the directions to the store critical? Most of the clients behind these suits are going to have difficulty saying that they just needed to see the information of this website or of this school.”
– Robert L. Duston, Partner, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr
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.