This week, a much-anticipated ruling on website accessibility was issued out of the Southern District of Florida. The ruling in Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, case no. 16-23020-civ-Scola (S.D. FL 2017), will require the attention of businesses across the country that host websites. To recap, this was a case of first impression. After a two-day nonjury trial, Judge Robert Scola determined that Winn-Dixie’s website operates as a “gateway” to its physical store locations and therefore is required to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The court determined that “the services offered on Winn-Dixie’s website, such as the online pharmacy management system, the ability to access digital coupons that link automatically to a customer’s rewards card, and the ability to find store locations, are undoubtedly services, privileges, advantages and accommodations offered by Winn-Dixie’s physical store locations.” Commentary to the court’s decision has focused mainly on two portions of the decision: (1) having an inaccessible website violates Title III of the ADA; and (2) a business is required to make its website accessible even though it is a fact that, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has never promulgated enforceable regulations. Instead, the DOJ has relied upon the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to shape this guidance known as, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). While this opinion is the first of its kind, the ruling also addresses an important issue specifically ADA liability arising from third-party links featured on a website. While we agree with commentary to date, we believe this third issue has not received the attention it deserves.
Court Finds That WCAG 2.0 is the Standard
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