Health

Websites are being sued over accessibility

Yes, the ADA extends to the internet.

More and more businesses with websites that are not accessible to people with hearing or visual impairment are being sued.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects anyone with a disability since 1990. And, that includes websites and other digital mediums.

“The ADA prohibits discrimination against the disabled in all places of public accommodation, which most courts have interpreted to include websites connected to a physical business,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Most of the websites face lawsuits after many users had problems when using screen readers and other available tools. So, most lawsuits are just asking to improve the format of the content to ensure that it supports that technology.

The internet has become a crucial part of our daily lives. From shopping to working, to paying bills, we need the internet to survive this current day and age. And, businesses should make sure that their services are as accessible as possible. Navigating the internet should not be frustrating to anyone with a disability. So, it is understandable that more and more people are getting tired of a screen reader saying the words “image” over and over again, instead of actually describing the image.

“The number of website-access lawsuits filed in federal court reached 2,250 in 2018, almost three times the 814 filed in 2017,” wrote The Wall Street Journal.

So, many businesses are taking the lead and working on improving their accessibility. However, the Justice Department has failed to create actual guidelines for accessibility online. So, businesses are still able to get away with content that continues to alienate people with disabilities.

An example was a lawsuit won by a man who was unable to order pizza from the Domino’s Pizza website in 2016.

Jeffrey Gottlieb, New York attorney said, “there’s no excuse for companies today not to have fixed and remediated their websites.” Gottlieb has filed hundreds of ADA website cases. “I find only a lawsuit pushes them to do it,” he said.

However, retailers such as Michael Kors and Forever 21 and restaurants such as Applebee’s have been sued countless times. So, many consumers are urging for stricter guidelines to be in place for such websites. Most businesses pay a settlement instead of tackling the ableism sparking the issue.

 

 

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Maria is a senior at Hofstra University majoring in Journalism and Women's...