Article III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against disabled persons in the full and equal enjoyment of public accommodation. When a website is considered a place of public accommodation, the website must be accessible to people with disabilities. This requirement is the source of extensive litigation throughout the United States, as plaintiffs regularly bring lawsuits against defendant companies based on the accessibility (or lack thereof) of their websites.

The Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a series of guidelines that provide businesses and other website owners with standards to abide by in order to ensure that their website is accessible for users with disabilities. Many courts have utilized these guidelines to determine compliance with the ADA while we await concrete guidance from the Department of Justice (DOJ). On June 6, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published its WCAG 2.1 as a “W3C Recommendation” web standard. All requirements from the prior version 2.0 are included in 2.1, however 2.1 adds 17 additional success criteria. WCAG 2.1 includes updates intended to address 3 major groups: users with cognitive or learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices. WCAG 2.1 provides additional criteria as technology evolves—for instance, the new standards include guidance on accessibility of mobile apps, such as user interactions using touch, handling more complex gestures, and avoiding unintended activation of an interface. Since WCAG 2.1 sets forth even more criteria with which to comply than 2.0, websites that were designed based off the 2.0 requirements may no longer be fully compliant with these guidelines. Thus, if businesses have already modified their websites to meet WCAG 2.0, the question now becomes whether they will need to further enhance their websites to meet 2.1.

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