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Employment Blog

What Does ADA Accessible Mean?

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on April 4, 2016
Filed under Employment

In a recent blog, I wrote about the potential of litigation requiring a business to make its website ADA accessible.  I noted that it is still not clear what a business may be required to do under this legal argument.  A recent court decision in California has not clarified what a business may be required to do but it has certainly identified the heavy price tag that could apply if the website is not accessible.

A luggage retailer that sold luggage on its website was required to pay $4,000 to the plaintiff and pay in excess of $100,000 in attorneys’ fees based on a finding that the website of the business was not ADA accessible.  There was no indication in the court decision as to what steps needed to be undertaken to make the website accessible for someone who was visually impaired although the complaint seemed to suggest that the website was not designed to be read by screen-reading software that a blind person would use to help read printed materials on a website.  In a very brief decision, the California trial court held that the company had to pay $4,000 to the plaintiff and take steps to make its website more readily accessible to visually impaired persons.  The court also ordered the company to pay more than $100,000 in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiff as part of the remedy provided by the court.

This is a trial court decision that may or may not be appealed but it shows the potential for claims that a company website is not ADA accessible and therefore in violation of Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Companies (and local governments) need to look at this issue and consider if changes should be made to make its website more useable by a disabled person.