Retailers and other companies are coming under attack by plaintiffs’ law firms alleging that their websites and mobile applications do not comply with the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Several firms recently have sent letters to businesses demanding that they submit to structured settlement negotiations to resolve ADA compliance issues. As a part of their settlement demands, these law firms are requesting that the retailers and other operators of public websites and mobile applications establish curative measures to resolve accessibility problems — and pay the law firm’s fees and expenses.
The federal agency charged with the responsibility of enforcing the ADA, the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (DOJ), has taken the position that privately operated public websites and mobile applications are public accommodations under the ADA. As public accommodations, they must be accessible. While the issue of website and mobile application accessibility is not entirely settled in the federal courts, the most recent decisions support the DOJ position and lead to the conclusion that websites and mobile applications will likely be subject to the ADA.
The DOJ is in the process of issuing regulations to establish the standard of accessibility for websites and mobile applications. The new standard is anticipated to be the standards issued by an international organization, the World Wide Web Consortium, and known as the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.0 AA. When the new standards take effect, nearly all operators of public websites and mobile applications will need to take steps to comply.
Faegre Baker Daniels has experience helping retailers and operators of public websites respond to these demands and comply with accessibility standards.