DOJ delays ADA regulations for the accessibility of private websites to 2018

Just months prior to that target date, DOJ has announced that it will not finalize regulations to explain what constitutes accessible website content for public accommodations in the private/non-government sector until fiscal year 2018 at the earliest.

What You Need to Know

  • DOJ’s view is that Title III of the ADA, which applies to “places of public accommodation,” requires all private businesses to make their Internet websites accessible to consumers with disabilities, regardless of whether the business operates an actual, physical “place” open to the public.
  • DOJ initiated rulemaking concerning website accessibility in 2010 with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
    • Since then, however, DOJ has repeatedly set (and pushed back) release dates for the final Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) concerning this issue.

Preview

From Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP's LawFlash

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

December 7 2015

As litigation continues to surge, private businesses await clarity on whether access to people with disabilities under Title III is required for websites.

Claims that websites are inaccessible to persons with hearing and visual impairments date back over a decade. These claims used to be few in number, and most were resolved prior to litigation with little publicity. But starting in 2014, such claims surged dramatically, and the pace has only increased in 2015.

Clients in the retail, e-commerce, financial services, technology, and other industries are now, with increasing frequency, receiving threats of class action litigation over allegedly inaccessible websites from disability rights advocacy groups, plaintiffs’ lawyers, and the US Department of Justice (DOJ). In some cases there is not even a threat, just the reality of a federal court complaint. Indeed, in the past six months, more than a dozen Title III class actions have been filed across the country alleging website inaccessibility and, in many cases, related claims of breach of privacy.

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