As a response to a letter from 103 Members of the House of Representative in June, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the following response on September 25th, 2018, they re-stated:
"The Department (DOJ) first articulated its interpretation that the ADA Applies to public accommodations websites over 20 years ago. This interpretation is consistent with the ADA's title III requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities"
(Read the full letter here)
The letter did little to help businesses know or understand what specific and adequate accommodation is when it comes to websites. A number of lawyers have reviewed the language of the full letter from the DOJ and provided their opinion on the effect on current legal situations:
- Minh N. Vu: DOJ Says Failure to Comply With Web Accessibility Guidelines is Not Necessarily a Violation of the ADA
- Richard Hunt: ADA website regulation – half empty, half full or just empty?
Both of these articles include in their summary that the practical result will have little effect on the current volume of legal cases being brought against website owners in the name of disability access. The lack of clear guidance to businesses is a major driving factor in the volume of lawsuits brought against private companies that UsableNet recently covered in its 2018 ADA Web Accessibility Lawsuit report.
However, it should not be overlooked that businesses themselves have added to this volume of legal lawsuits and demand letters by not proactively addressing accessibility and ensuring their websites are accessible to users of all abilities. If all website owners created priority and vision to ensuring accessibility to all, then surely the number of legal lawsuit opportunities would be significantly reduced.
Check the status of your website accessibility by beginning with a free one-page test, powered by UsableNet AQA.