Last month I posted Part I on this topic which covered the state of federal statutes and regulations regarding web site access as well as the most recent Florida Federal case law on the topic.
This time I around, I want to talk about reality for companies.
Plaintiffs are bringing these website cases here, and elsewhere, and many have already figured out how to plead the claims to survive the motion to dismiss phase. So, if your company has an inaccessible website and a physical location and the two are physically linked then you are eventually going to face a Title III ADA website case.
Physically linked can mean situations such as:
- you offer coupons on your website that people can use in your store or restaurant;
- you advertise specials on your website that apply in your store or restaurant;
- customers can order merchandise on your website and pick it up at your store;
- customers can return merchandise ordered online to your store;
- you post your menus on your website for your restaurant; and
- you have an online reservation system for your hotel or your restaurant, etc.
If you want to get your website accessible, what should you do? Head back to the DOJ guidance and consider working towards moving your website to WCAG 2.0 AA or higher level of accessibility. Since websites are always changing and being updated, you can ask your ecommerce teams (internal and external) to begin moving content or updating content so it meets these standards over time.
The WCAG standards include such things as making content Screen Reader Software (“SRS”) compatible, adding captions to video, photos, etc. But, there are many other issues that come with meeting the WCAG 2.0 AA standards that involve organization of website, navigation between pages, checkout for ordering, etc. that may require expert guidance.
While the ADA Title III regulations and standards have not caught up with technology, the plaintiffs’ bar has gone beyond. If you want to avoid litigation regarding your website (and it has a nexus to your companies’ physical locations), you need to think about moving forward with redesign of your website or at least a retrofit that includes SRS compliance until regulations are in place.
Dori K. Stibolt is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Dori has in-depth experience counseling companies regarding ADA online access and defense of ADA website accessibility cases. Dori also defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims. You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.