Does the Americans With Disabilities Apply to Your Website? May 1, 2013

Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by businesses offering “public accommodations.” Traditionally, these are restaurants, hotels, offices and retail stores. Is a web site considered a public accommodation? This question is becoming more relevant as a number of lawsuits have addressed whether various web sites violate the ADA.

In 2008, a federal court in California found that Target’s web site,, was closely connected with Target’s physical stores that are public accommodations. Because of that connection, the court held that Target must comply with the ADA and its website must be accessible to blind web visitors.

Last year, a Massachusetts based federal court ruled in favor of National Association of the Deaf (“NAD”) by denying online media provider Netflix, Inc.’s motion to dismiss the NAD’s ADA claim. Ultimately, the NAD and Netflix entered into a consent decree whereby Netflix agreed to add “conforming captions” and subtitles to its on-demand streaming content by September of 2014.

Is your organization’s web presence vulnerable to a claim that it is not accessible? What are the practical considerations involved in achieving or being excused from accessibility?

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is the agency responsible for administering the ADA. The DOJ is considering revising Title III of the ADA to establish requirements for making goods and services offered by public accommodations via the Internet.

The NAD Netflix consent decree is available here. For more information about the DOJ’s proposed rulemaking, click here.

Contact us at Ossian Law P.C. regarding social media law or any other information technology law question.

© 2013 Ossian Law P.C.