[thelist] US Judge rules that ADA applies to websites

Max Schwanekamp lists at neptunewebworks.com
Mon Sep 11 14:48:03 CDT 2006

> From: Matt Warden 
> On 9/11/06, Judah McAuley <judah at wiredotter.com> wrote:
> > Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in the 9th District has ruled that the 
> > Americans with Disability Act (ADA) applies to companies public 
> > websites. Target...
> > Now you can go to your clients and explain that having an 
> accessible 
> > website is not only a polite thing, it may also keep you 
> from getting sued.
> I have been following this, but I somehow suspect that this 
> is being interpreted too broadly. I am waiting for a legal 
> analysis of this, because I really can't see this single 
> decision forcing companies to spend what would end up being a 
> HUGE amount of money to make their sites ADA compliant.

Ramps, elevators, etc were expensive too, but it did happen.  You're right
that should this case be decided in favor of the Federation of the Blind, it
alone won't be enough to force the adoption. As the groundwork is first laid
with cases setting precedents on specific points, the wheels of law turn
very slowly, but often once inertia is broken, they accelerate.

> Specifically, the ruling is currently only applicable to 
> sites which enhance the physical side of the business.

That's a pretty fragile distinction.  It may be that this particular case
gets decided on that point, but the ADA issue with respect to websites owned
by US businesses is unlikely to remain there IMHO.  Thus it behooves us as
developers to be proactive from the start.

> This is not a decision but a refusal to dismiss the case:
> http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=196171&cid=16073518

Good point, but it *is* a decision of sorts, as the judge did decide the
plaintiffs' case has sufficient merit to proceed.  While not
precedent-setting, it does mean that the case will be getting additional
press, bringing the question of website accessibility forward a bit in the
media, and thus it's slightly more likely that clients will ask "is our site
ADA-compliant?" (Nevermind there is no ADA standard for websites).

Max Schwanekamp

More information about the thelist mailing list