Increasingly, companies face threat of legal action based on the claim that their websites and/or mobile applications are inaccessible to disabled users. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires places of public accommodation, such as hotels, shopping centers, retailers, health care providers, restaurants, and private educational institutions, to maintain facilities accessible to the disabled. Most businesses understand their obligations to make their physical facilities accessible under the ADA. What many do not realize is that in the Internet age, ADA accessibility involves more than compliance with architectural and structural requirements for physical facilities. Companies must also ensure their websites and mobile applications are accessible to the disabled. In 2016, more than 250 lawsuits were filed against companies, primarily in the retail, hospitality, and financial services industries, alleging that the companies’ websites were inaccessible to disabled users. The exposure in these cases entails not only an injunction, but also defense costs and award of the claimants’ attorney fees. Accordingly, it is important for businesses and defense counsel to understand the need for ADA website accessibility and strategies to mitigate exposure.
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