In the digital age, businesses are increasingly depending on websites to market and sell their products online. However, with such reliance also comes vulnerability. Across the country, visually impaired individuals have been suing website owners, arguing that their sites violate the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Litigation can be daunting. Luckily, the professionals at Dudley and Smith, P.A., are here to help.
How Can My Website Run Afoul of the ADA?
In general, Title III of the ADA states that no individual can be discriminated against on the basis of their disability in the equal enjoyment of the goods, services, or facilities of “any place of public accommodation.” Under Title III, visually impaired individuals who have had difficulty navigating certain websites have brought legal action against these sites’ owners.
The success of these lawsuits has been mixed. Some jurisdictions have dismissed such lawsuits while others embrace them. This is known in the legal world as a circuit split. The Eight Circuit, which Minnesota is located in, has not weighed in on this issue. Therefore, it is yet to be determined whether a plaintiff can bring such a lawsuit in a federal court in the state of Minnesota.
What Can I Do to Protect My Website from ADA Claims?
Although the validity of these Title III lawsuits is debated amongst courts, getting sued is still a strenuous process. Therefore, website owners should take steps to insulate themselves from such suits. Such steps can include:
- Ensuring that one’s website is understandable to all users in not only its content, but in its operation.
- Making assistive technologies available for visually impaired individuals. This may require the incorporation of certain website tools such as captions or audible screen-readers.
- Making sure that one’s website is robust and current. In other words, users must be able to access the content as technologies advance in the future.
Do I Need Legal Counsel?
These Title III claims under the ADA are a novel and highly complex issue at law. Therefore, if one is subjected to such a claim or is curious about their own website’s compliance, consulting with a legal professional is highly recommended. The law firm of Dudley and Smith, P.A. has multiple experienced and skilled litigation attorneys who can assist you in this endeavor. Dudley and Smith, P.A. is a full service law firm with offices in Blaine, Bloomington, Burnsville, Woodbury, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Roseville, Mendota Heights and White Bear Lake.
The law is continually evolving and Dudley and Smith, P.A.’s blog posts should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship. Postings are for informational purposes and are not solicitations, legal advice, or tax advice. A viewer of Dudley and Smith, P.A.’s blog should not rely upon any information in the blog without seeking legal counsel.