Let’s start with a bit of background. The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal opportunity to people with disabilities. This applies to State and local government services, employment, commercial facilities, transportation, and places of public accommodation. These laws can be enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and through private lawsuits.
Currently, there is a safe harbor clause that allows your existing content to remain as it is, unless altered after January 18, 2018. However, the guidelines do pertain to any page that has been updated after that date. So if you want to avoid the legal costs of being found non-compliant with the ADA, it’s best to make the necessary changes to your website now.
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.
In the new construction of a new facility, all accessible rooms and spaces are required to be connected by an accessible route and all toilet facilities, drinking fountains, public telephones and signs are subject to accessibility requirements. These fundamental requirements provide accessibility in excess of that required for alterations to existing facilities so the regulations associated with path of travel requirements are not applicable to new facilities.
Where EVCS are installed at facilities where vehicle fueling, recharging, parking or storage is NOT a primary function, compliance with Section 11B-202.4 is NOT required (see Section 11B-202.4 Exception 10). These types of facilities include shopping centers, individual stores and office buildings. While parking is frequently provided at these types of facilities, parking is not the primary function – shopping or conducting business is the primary function at these facilities.
If a building or facility has been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist, and is subsequently the subject of an ADA lawsuit, the owner of the property can request a “stay” of proceedings for 90 days, which stops the legal process and provides an opportunity for the plaintiff and defendant to resolve whatever issues may need to be addressed. An inspection by a Certified Access Specialist won’t guarantee that a property will not be subject to an ADA lawsuit, but it will significantly reduce the likelihood that an ADA attorney will go after the property looking for $4,000 in statutory damages.
The fact that an ADA compliant website can increase your target audience by millions is just one reason to make your site more accessible. Another benefit is that not only will you get more customers, but those customers will also know how valuable they are to your business. After all, they might have gone to a few other websites that were not ADA compliant, disappointed each time that they couldn’t access the content, until they got to your website.
At least one accessible route shall connect accessible building or facility entrances with all accessible spaces and elements and with all accessible dwelling units within the building or facility. An accessible route shall connect at least one accessible entrance of each accessible dwelling unit with those exterior and interior spaces and facilities that serve the accessible dwelling unit.
Does Ca law trump Federal or vice versa? We have a private community pool with 220 members. We have a swim team, which makes us a public entity (they allow nonmembers to join). We have been told to get 2 modes of entry into the pool. I would like swim team to pay for 2 chair lifts since we would be private and therefore not legally have to put in chair lifts without the team being there. Please advise.
The prudent next step is running an audit on your site. The tools will crawl your site and identify all the areas that do not meet web accessibility standards for ADA compliance. The results will give you a very clear sense of the work involved so you can budget properly and weigh the benefits. Who knows, you may find out that your site is already fairly compliant, especially if you are on a fairly progressive platform and have used proper coding practices during your site build.
My husband is 92 and now confined to a wheelchair following a stroke. Back in Jan.2017 i moved us into a condo. Renting a unit from a private individual who owns tbe unit. He has been accomidating,on the other hand the HOA has not. For instance the lights have been out on the south entrance to our building for over 6 months. I have repeatedly sent emails and phone calls which mgt. Stated they will have it taken care of yet nothing ever happend. Now my husband has bruised his hands and skinned his shins attempting to enter after dark yet mgt has not responded to our request at all. Also the issue of handicapped parking spaces we were told nothing they could do because spaces are deeded to owners? Building built 1989
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 legal issue for websites is whether website operators are operating “a place of public accommodation.” The statute lists 12 different types of public accommodations including somewhat of a catchall that includes “other sales or rental establishment.” The list, created when the law was passed in 1988, conceivably covers most commercial establishments, but does not expressly include websites.
The number of New York federal website accessibility lawsuits is staggering, brought primarily by fifteen law firms/lawyers. The lawyers appearing most frequently on filings are Joseph Mizrahi, Jonathan Shalom, Doug Lipsky, C.K. Lee, Bradley Marks, and Jeffrey Gottlieb. We saw a surge in these cases after New York federal judges allowed website accessibility cases to proceed to discovery in lawsuits against Blick Art and Five Guys. The 2018 New York website accessibility filing statistic brought New York into a close second to California in the total number of ADA Title III lawsuits (not just website accessibility cases) filed in federal court.
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.
The California Labor Code requires separate facilities whenever there are more than four employees. Where separate facilities are provided for nondisabled persons of each sex, separate facilities shall be provided for persons with disabilities of each sex also. Where unisex facilities are provided for persons without disabilities, at least one unisex facility shall be provided for persons with disabilities within close proximity to the non-accessible facility.
Heather is a regular speaker on hot topics in Internet law, technology, cyber security, and IP law. She has been named a Super Lawyer Rising Star and Top Attorney. Heather is currently serving as the Program Chair for the California State Bar Intellectual Property Section's Technology, Internet, and Privacy Interest Group. Heather can be reached at [email protected]
As we had predicted, the number of website accessibility lawsuits (i.e. lawsuits alleging that plaintiffs with a disability could not use websites because they were not coded to work with assistive technologies like screen readers, or otherwise accessible to them) filed in federal court under Title III of the ADA exploded in 2018 to at least 2258 – increasing by 177% from 814 such lawsuits in 2017.
Under Title III, no individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation. Public accommodations include most places of lodging (such as inns and hotels), recreation, transportation, education, and dining, along with stores, care providers, and places of public displays.
You are correct, ADA defines an “employer” as any person who is 1) engaged in an industry affecting commerce; 2) employes 15 or more full-time employees each work day; and 3) for at least 20 or more calendar weeks in the year. In the context of physical spaces, ADA would not apply to companies with fewer than 15 employees. However, courts don’t seem to have come to a consensus on what digital compliance really should look like. Because websites can be accessed anywhere in the country, small business owners might potentially face lawsuits in unfavorable jurisdictions. If you are a small business owner, I would recommend consulting with an accessibility lawyer and ask what they recommend.
When a property owner hits the 20% cost limitation on path of travel improvements, the jurisdictional entity cannot require further improvements to the path of travel to occur. The property owner should be advised, however, that for older facilities that pre-date the ADA, barrier removal is required by the ADA. Barrier removal, however, will not be enforced by the local jurisdictional entity.