ADA Compliance: Who is Required to Make Their Website Accessible Under Title III?

There is no clear cut answer as to who the Americans would Disabilities Act applies to when it comes to digital accessibility. And there are several reasons for this but and I won’t cover them all, but we’ll cover some of the basics.

And we’ll start with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and it generally states that nobody should be shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, privileges, advantages, etc. of any place of public accommodation by anybody who owns leases or operates a place of public accommodation.

So what is a place of public accommodation?

Well the ADA lists out there’s actually 12 categories that the ADA has and within those categories the ADA lists out several examples and I’ll provide a link to this below but some of the examples are restaurant, a gymnasium, a health spa, the theater, a bank, a laundromat, a barbershop, a hospital, etc.

So the ADA didn’t contemplate the digital world. Here all of these examples are from the physical world so that has led to interpretation and the ADA has generally been interpreted to apply to the digital world and the DOJ’s stance has consistently been that websites need to be accessible and therefore ADA compliant, but the DOJ has not specified how and there are no regulations that state explicitly under Title III that did that websites need to be accessible.

But that’s been the DOJ’s stance and the Department of Justice regulates and enforces Title II and Title III of the ADA so their stance is highly persuasive and courts have generally found that the ADA does apply to websites.

However, there are several exceptions.

What’s important to note is there are state courts and there are federal courts. There is a federal court system and these two largely run independent of one another.

What’s also important to know is that different states comprise different circuits within the federal system.

The federal court system and so not all of these circuits agree with one another on who the ADA applies to or how it applies to them, but what’s relevant is that plaintiffs’ lawyers exist in all circuit courts and even if a particular circuit is unfavorable to the idea of websites being required to be accessible under the ADA, there is another circuit that does and of course there’s also state courts- there are also state courts in which plaintiffs’ lawyers can file as well.

So when it comes to, who does the ADA apply to, if we take back if we if we look at what is the purpose of this question most people watching this video want to know, “am I compelled to make my website or mobile app or any other digital asset accessible under the American Disabilities Act?”
Generally, the question is yes if you are a place of public accommodation.

However, I emphasize the word generally because it varieswhether you are required to comply or not is going to be is going to require someone has to you’re going to need your counsel, your attorney to determine whether or not you need to be compliant and even at that it may not always be a sure thing.

But what we do know is that plaintiffs’ lawyers are willing to test and they are willing to send out demand letters and or file complaints and they are willing to find that out under in court.

So that’s the general story on ADA compliance and how it relates to websites and who it applies to generally because there are there are so many circuits and there are different state courts.

If you do not want to if you do not want to be found liable under not only in the American with Disabilities Act but other laws to their other laws that require that prohibit discrimination based on disability and that has been extended to need to get in accessibility of websites mobile apps.

And so on so generally the ADA applies to places of public accommodation and I will put the link to the ADA.

And the ADA itself provides several examples of these places of public accommodation and if you fall under one of those generally you are required.

However, if you are if you are looking to prevent litigation altogether, I recommend that you make your website accessible regardless beyond just compliance obviously it helps everyone and it helps everyone gain access which you would want anyway.

I know those of you who are watching this video are very concerned about whether you absolutely have to do it.

There is no clear answer you will have to consult with your attorney on that, but what I have provided is a very broad overview of some of the major elements in play when deciding when deciding when trying to figure that out.

So my book, The ADA Book will have more on this. I’ll also put a link to that below but it will be up to your counsel to determine whether the ADA applies to you I think the general answer is yes and, moreover, I think the right thing to do is to make your website accessible and that way you’ll have both the sense of relief and you’ll know that you will you will be ensuring access to a wide range of people including those with disabilities and you’ll also the good thing.

And this is absolutely true: is accessibility improves the user experience for everyone and so you’re going to make a more you’re going to create a better user experience which is going to be more inviting and could ultimately lead to better conversion rate or more options or whatever it is that the objective of your website or other digital asset is.