On March 18 the Department of Justice published its Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA. Anything that helps businesses understand their ADA obligations is helpful, but the fact that this Guidance was posted on the beta site of ADA.gov tells you that even DOJ has low expectations. Those low expectations are justified because the Guidance doesn’t define website accessibility and therefore does nothing to help businesses have certainty about their compliance with the law. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, FHA, Internet Accessibility Tags: ADA defense, ADA personal jurisdiction, FHA Defense, Legal Ethics Today, recovery homes, sober living, Uber Technologies, William Goren
Almost everyone who ever was, had or has a child probably knows Bowser, the character from many Nintendo games. In Mario Party he often offers “gifts” that don’t always (or ever) turn out to be something you might want. Recent developments in accessibility law are, as usual, a mixed bag. Here’s what I found underneath the tree. Bwahahahaha!
A shiny new article about the ethics of communication.
My partner, Jeanne Huey and I collaborated on an article about ABA Formal Opinion 500 that was published by the American Bar Association Litigation Section Professionalism and Ethics Committee, but is easiest to find at her blog, Legal Ethics Today. Communication with those who are disabled is a statutory obligation under the ADA for all businesses open to the public as well as the Fair Housing Act for housing providers. For lawyers it is an ethical obligation as well. More
My new paper “Understanding Website Accessibility Litigation” is available now for download. This paper is for businesses who want to understand this highly publicized form of litigation without jargon and legalese. Here’s a summary of what the paper will explain; a link to view the entire paper appears below.
It isn’t clear which business websites are covered by Title III of the ADA. It may cover all websites that are available to the public or it may be limited to websites that have some connection to a physical place of business. Just what that connection must be is also uncertain.
It isn’t clear what it takes for a website to meet the requirements of Title III of the ADA. WCAG in its current version at success level AA is the best available technical standard, but it does not have the force of law. Conformance to its requirements may not be sufficient, and non-conformance may not mean the website violates the ADA.
Not all lawsuits and demands are the same with respect to the threat they pose. Lawsuits and demand letters come from law firms that range from very sophisticated to incredibly ignorant. The only general advice that applies to all such lawsuits and demands is that before adopting any legal or business strategy you must know about the law firm and its history of website litigation.
Different judges can have very different views of what the ADA requires and how different defenses apply. Just as you can’t decide on legal strategy without knowing about the law firm that filed suit, you can’t decide on a legal strategy without knowing what your specific judge has done in the past with similar ADA lawsuits.
Software testing is not adequate to find all the accessibility problems a website may have. Only user testing by trained users can locate all the accessibility problems in a website.
No widget, plug-in or overlay can make a website fully accessible. These products can, at best, improve a small subset of common problems but often do so at the expense of making other parts of the website inaccessible.
Accessibility and good design go hand in hand. Making a website easy to use for non-disabled users will almost always solve common accessibility problems. Good design should b the primary consideration in website development.
To open the paper in your browser click this link: “Understanding Website Accessibility Litigation.”
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Web Access Tags: ADA defense, Digital Accessibility Legal Summit 2021, overlay, plug-in., website accessibility, widget
The Digital Accessibility Legal Summit 2021 is over, but those interested in the panel discussion and following commentary from The Great Accessibility Overlays Battle can watch it YouTube below. Spoiler alert: widgets, plug-ins and overlays all have one thing in common – they cannot guarantee website accessibility and if you read the fine print, the companies that sell them don’t even claim they can.
By Richard Hunt in ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Internet, ADA Mootness, FHA, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, ADA standing, ADA statute of limitations, ADA website, FHA Defense, serial litigation
It turns out that the story about Benjamin Franklin wanting the wild turkey to be the U.S. National Bird is a myth, I’m not willing to get into the politics of the annual pardoning of turkeys by the President, and I don’t have Wild Turkey in my liquor cabinet so here instead are the latest ADA and FHA decisions.
Another critical case on injury and standing, this time in the context of limitations.
In Karantsalis v. City of Miami Springs, Fla.,2021 WL 5279406 (11th Cir. Nov. 12, 2021) the Eleventh Circuit made a critical distinction between having a disability and being injured because of that disability that has implications beyond the immediate limitations issue. The question was when the plaintiff’s ADA claim against the City accrued. If it accrued when he first learned that he had multiple sclerosis in 2008 then his claims were barred by limitations. If it accrued when his symptoms progressed to the point that he could no longer use City facilities in 2019 then his lawsuit was timely. The Court found that despite having a disability the plaintiff had not been injured until his disability interfered with use of City services:
Karantsalis argues on the other hand that the district court incorrectly determined that his claims accrued in 2008. Instead, he contends that his claims did not accrue until he had suffered both (1) a disability, and (2) an injury (his inability to readily access and use the City’s services by reason of his disability). Under the ADA, Karantsalis was not injured (and therefore did not have standing) until after he was denied the benefits of the City’s public services.
As a statute of limitations case this decision is important for any municipality faced with ADA litigation over services like sidewalks that are in place for decades. It is equally important as part of the trend of recognizing that standing to sue requires a real, rather than a hypothetical injury. More