Time To Make Your Website ADA Compliant

October 11, 2017 at 9:48 am 2 comments

Image result for ADATwo recent developments demonstrate that it’s time to start making your website ADA compliant if you haven’t done so already. 

 First, the Credit Union Times reported recently that at least nine credit unions have been sued in recent weeks because their websites allegedly violate the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Second, there is now a district court decision in the 2nd Circuit, which has jurisdiction over New York State that websites must comply with this federal law.  Andrews v. Blick Art Materials, LLC, — F. Supp. 3d –, 2017 WL 3278898, (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 1, 2017).

To state a claim under Title III of the ADA, a disabled plaintiff must prove that a defendant owns, leases or operates a place of public accommodation and that the defendant has discriminated against him by denying him a full and equal opportunity to enjoy the defendant’s services. The key issue, increasingly involving credit unions, is whether or not a business’s website is a place of public accommodation.

 For example, I pulled down the complaint to one of the lawsuits to which the CU Times is referring. The legal argument in Carroll v. Roanoke Valley Community Credit Union is a straight forward one. The plaintiffs are visually impaired consumers who argue that the credit union’s website lacks basic software that enables the visually impaired to navigate and utilize web services. Specifically, they point to standards promulgated by the International Website Standards Organization which have been “successfully followed by numerous large business entities to ensure that their websites are accessible” and which the credit union has allegedly not adopted.

Despite the ubiquity of the internet, the courts have still not come to a consensus as to whether or not a website is a place of public accommodation covered by the ADA. Very generally speaking, some courts argue that the ADA can’t apply to websites because they are not physical locations such as buildings. Other courts have concluded that the ADA should be read broadly as including websites at least to the extent that they assist individuals wanting to enjoy a business’s physical location.

This is why the Andrews decision is potentially so important. It marks the first time that a New York Federal Court has directly ruled on the issue of whether Title III of the ADA applies to a retailer’s website. If appealed.  It will give the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit the opportunity to provide clear guidance to credit unions and other businesses about what their website obligations are. If the case is upheld on appeal, it clearly stands for the proposition that your website must be ADA compliant.

 

Entry filed under: Compliance, New York State. Tags: , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • […] companies to provide accessible websites under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The call comes amid a wave of lawsuits against credit unions and other financial institutions for failing to comply with the ADA. In 2010, […]

    Reply
  • 2. ADA Gone Wild | new york's state of mind  |  January 8, 2018 at 9:06 am

    […] Content Accessibility Guidelines as providing an ADA compliant standard. As I mentioned in this recent blog, one of the first cases in New York to address this issue and now at least one court has held that […]

    Reply

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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