Lack of basic accessibility features. The majority of cases are caused by this factor. The lack of basic, easy-to-implement web accessibility features may show indifference to needs of users with disabilities and their user experience browsing your site, which in most cases leads to a filed complaint. Basic accessibility features may include providing alt text on graphics, providing labels on form controls (e.g. text boxes, checkboxes, radio buttons), avoiding improper table markup which can lead to accessibility issues, providing alt text on images, etc.
Defendant: HRB Digital LLC, one of the largest tax return preparers in the United States that offers a wide range of services online via website and mobile apps. Services include professional and do-it-yourself tax preparation, instructional videos, office location information, interactive live video conference and chat with tax pros, online and in-store services and electronic tax-return filing.
Heather Antoine is the founder of Antoine Law Group, APC. Her practice is focused on the intersection between Internet law and intellectual property. Heather is primarily a litigator handling trademark/copyright infringement matters, cyber defamation, domain disputes, and privacy torts. She also counsels companies on setting up and maintaining their IP portfolios, privacy and FTC regulations, and drafts app/website agreements such as terms of use and privacy policies. 

1:15 PM, Nov. 12, 2018: This story incorrectly says that nearly 5,000 ADA lawsuits were filed in federal court for alleged website violations in the first six months of 2018 and that 10,000 were projected to be filed by year’s end, up 30% from 2017. Those numbers actually refer to all ADA lawsuits for disability discrimination involving public accommodation filed in that period. Of those suits, lawsuits alleging website accessibility violations totaled 1,053 in the first six months, a number that is projected to rise to 2,000 by year’s end, up 90% from 2017.

I am in a wheelchair. I have to go to my local hospital (in California) for some outpatient services. My problem is that I cannot open the rest room door from the hallway into the bathroom or from inside the bathroom back out into the hallway. It’s the same with every bathroom accessible to the public. There isn’t any type of automatic device for opening the door to get into or out of the bathroom. If I’m by myself, I have to wait for someone to come along to open the door for me. Once inside the bathrooms, the stalls and the sinks are accessible. It’s getting into and out of the bathrooms that is a problem. I know other people have the same problem. But nothing has ever been done in response to complaints. Are hospitals exempt from the ADA?
Olmstead v. L.C.[65] was a case before the United States Supreme Court in 1999. The two plaintiffs L.C. and E.W. were institutionalized in Georgia for diagnosed mental retardation and schizophrenia. Clinical assessments by the state determined that the plaintiffs could be appropriately treated in a community setting rather than the state institution. The plaintiffs sued the state of Georgia and the institution for being inappropriately treated and housed in the institutional setting rather than being treated in one of the state's community based treatment facilities.
Under the law, websites should be just as accessible as ATMs (ever notice the Braille there?), elevators, terminals and other user interfaces. Not only should your site be accessible to all on a laptop or desktop but also on tablets and mobile phones. Failing ADA compliance creates poor and awkward experiences for people with physical disabilities. Simply put, ADA compliance is assuring your website falls within a set of prescribed accessibility standards.
Settlements like these were entered into across the country, and 2015 included: edX, Inc. and Carnival Cruise Lines (Carnival Corp.). Needless to say, by the mid to early 2010s, the DOJ were well aware of website accessibility issues and knew exactly where it stood on these issues. In the fall of 2014, the DOJ issued a Statement of Regulatory Priorities stating, “the Department received approximately 440 public comments and is in the process of reviewing these comments… the Department plans to follow with the publication of the title III NPRM in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.” That did not happen. Rather, in the fall of 2015, the DOJ decided to “extend the time period for development of the proposed Title III Web site accessibility rule and include it among its long-term rulemaking priorities. The Department expects to publish Title III Web site accessibility NPRM during fiscal year 2018.” In 2016, the DOJ requested additional public comment. And this year, the Trump Administration placed the DOJ’s rulemakings under Titles II and III of the ADA for websites, medical equipment, and furniture of public accommodations and state and local governments on the 2017 Inactive Actions list.
Prior to making a preliminary certification determination, the Department often provides written technical assistance to the submitting jurisdiction. In its technical assistance letter, the Department could point out provisions of the submitted code that raise concerns or questions about equivalency with the ADA, and may suggest possible changes or revisions to achieve compliance with the ADA. Once a preliminary determination is made that a submitted code meets or exceeds ADA requirements, the submitting jurisdiction is notified, members of the public, including persons with disabilities, are notified, and the public is provided an opportunity to comment. If the preliminary determination of equivalency is sustained, the Department will issue a certification of equivalency.
It is important to note that the remarks in this document are intended to be informative but they are not a substitute for the requirements of the California Building Code. Also, despite the informative nature of this document, it is the appropriate jurisdictional code official who possesses the exclusive authority to enforce and interpret the requirements of the California Building Code. This document provides informal assistance regarding California accessibility requirements only for DSA's code-enforcement jurisdiction. The information contained in this document is not binding on the Division of the State Architect and is not intended or designed to give any legal advice on compliance with federal, state, or local laws and regulations. It should be noted that laws, regulations, and standards are subject to revisions, additions, or deletions, at any time.
When a building, or portion of a building, is required to be accessible or adaptable, an accessible route of travel shall be provided to all portions of the building, to accessible building entrances and between the building and the public way. Except within an individual dwelling unit, an accessible route of travel shall not pass though kitchens, storage rooms, restrooms, closets or other spaces used for similar purposes.
Accessibility to buildings or portions of buildings shall be provided for all occupancy classifications except as specifically modified by the building code. Individual occupancy requirements in the code may modify the general requirements for accessibility, but never to the exclusion of them entirely — unless the requirements for an individual occupancy specifically overrides a general requirement. Multistory buildings must provide access by ramp or elevator, with elevator exceptions available for some buildings. Generally, two story office buildings are not required to have elevators, although all other accessible features are still required on upper floors.
Settlements like these were entered into across the country, and 2015 included: edX, Inc. and Carnival Cruise Lines (Carnival Corp.). Needless to say, by the mid to early 2010s, the DOJ were well aware of website accessibility issues and knew exactly where it stood on these issues. In the fall of 2014, the DOJ issued a Statement of Regulatory Priorities stating, “the Department received approximately 440 public comments and is in the process of reviewing these comments… the Department plans to follow with the publication of the title III NPRM in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.” That did not happen. Rather, in the fall of 2015, the DOJ decided to “extend the time period for development of the proposed Title III Web site accessibility rule and include it among its long-term rulemaking priorities. The Department expects to publish Title III Web site accessibility NPRM during fiscal year 2018.” In 2016, the DOJ requested additional public comment. And this year, the Trump Administration placed the DOJ’s rulemakings under Titles II and III of the ADA for websites, medical equipment, and furniture of public accommodations and state and local governments on the 2017 Inactive Actions list.
What’s in store for 2018? If the Ninth Circuit upholds the Domino’s district court’s dismissal on due process grounds, the number of California website accessibility lawsuits in federal court may go down dramatically.  Even if that occurs, we see no end to the website accessibility lawsuit surge elsewhere and expect that new plaintiffs’ firms will continue to enter the scene.  While the current administration’s DOJ is not likely to push the website accessibility agenda, its inaction will not stop the lawsuits.  Only an amendment to the ADA can do that, which we believe is highly unlikely.  Thus, the best risk mitigation effort for covered entities is still to make their websites accessible as soon as possible, with the assistance of ADA Title III legal counsel experienced in website accessibility issues and reputable digital accessibility consultants.

My husband and I are Airbnb hosts and rent out one bedroom in our primary residence to potential guests, usually for one week or less. Recently, we received an inquiry and the potential guest indicated that they had a service animal. Although we do not allow pets (we have our own small dog who is people-friendly but not always dog-friendly), I felt I should tread carefully concerning this request. Are there any laws concerning welcoming service animals into my home if I am running a business from said home? Airbnb always indicates that we set the rules in our own homes but suggested if I want more information, to contact my local government. I live in an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County. Thank you for any information you can provide.
The Department of Justice may file lawsuits in federal court to enforce the ADA Compliance, and courts may order compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination if the Department prevails. Under title III, the Department of Justice may also obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation of ADA Compliance.
Accessible seating or accommodations in places of public amusement and resort, including theaters, concert halls and stadiums, but not including hotels and motels, shall be provided in a variety of locations so as to provide persons with disabilities a choice of admission prices otherwise available to members of the general public. When there are over 300 seats, dispersal is required, and when there are less, no dispersal is clearly indicated in the code. However, some trial courts have found that lack of dispersal creates a highlighted area — generally considered discriminatory. The building code does mention this, and further changes in the code to clarify this is quite likely.
Is there anyone who can help from the ADA? It does not make sense to me that just because we are on private property that the policy will not ticket these violators. Is there anything the ADA can do to help my HOA realize that we are asking for the most basic of safety and access rights in our community by providing at the minimum a safe and clear path to walk on instead of being forced to walk in a weaving pattern being forced into the street and around cars parked across sidewalks?
Lack of basic accessibility features. The majority of cases are caused by this factor. The lack of basic, easy-to-implement web accessibility features may show indifference to needs of users with disabilities and their user experience browsing your site, which in most cases leads to a filed complaint. Basic accessibility features may include providing alt text on graphics, providing labels on form controls (e.g. text boxes, checkboxes, radio buttons), avoiding improper table markup which can lead to accessibility issues, providing alt text on images, etc.
Explain to the plaintiff that you’ve reviewed the grievance and talked with a lawyer. It may be best to explain the ADA guidelines, and that proposed laws are not currently laws, nor are there current penalties for violating these proposed laws. Knowing that you’ve gone to this trouble can sometimes scare away anyone attempting to file a lawsuit. It’s best to let your attorney contact the plaintiff when making statements.
×