The lack of regulations here has led to the absolute worst-case scenario. People with disabilities have not been served since most companies are unaware this is an issue. Most don’t even realize this is something they have to consider until they receive a demand letter. That has certainly been the case for some of my clients. This leads to a scramble to get compliant. Unfortunately, it can take up to a year to do so depending on the complexity of the site. Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ attorneys across the country are taking advantage of the confusion. More than 260 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2016, and significantly more were filed by the end of 2017. But these numbers do not even begin to cover the cases that are settled pre-litigation.
The question of ADA’s exact wording comes down to two issues: 1) whether the ADA applies to a website at all, and 2) if ADA applies only to websites that have a physical connection to goods and services available at a physical store or location, or if it applies to all websites even if they don’t have physical spaces. Courts are split on these issues but one thing is for certain: the tide is moving toward ADA compliance for websites, and the lack of specific legal wording prohibiting web discrimination has not stopped businesses from being sued.
The attorneys' fees provision of Title III does provide incentive for lawyers to specialize and engage in serial ADA litigation, but a disabled plaintiff does not obtain financial reward from attorneys' fees unless they act as their own attorney, or as mentioned above, a disabled plaintiff resides in a state that provides for minimum compensation and court fees in lawsuits. Moreover, there may be a benefit to these "private attorneys general" who identify and compel the correction of illegal conditions: they may increase the number of public accommodations accessible to persons with disabilities. "Civil rights law depends heavily on private enforcement. Moreover, the inclusion of penalties and damages is the driving force that facilitates voluntary compliance with the ADA."[56] Courts have noted:

Government Code §11546.7 – The requirement that state agency heads certify, every two years, that their agency’s website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.0 or a subsequent version, at Level AA or higher, and the requirements of Sections 11135 and 7405 of the Government Code. Created by AB 434 (Baker, Chapter 780, Statutes of 2017), and sometimes referred to as AB 434.
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.
Enforcement of the ADA, is typically left to private individuals and by necessity their attorneys.  When an individual with a disability encounters a condition that inhibits their access or use of a building or facility in 49 states other than California, they are able to file suit and obtain correction of the condition.  If an individual with a disability encounters the same condition in California, they are immediately eligible for $4,000 in statutory damages under California’s Civil Code Section 52, which makes any violation of the ADA (no matter how small) a violation of an individual’s civil rights.  This has unfortunately created a significant cottage industry in California, where attorneys (operating under the umbrella of “facilitating access for the disabled”) will go after businesses with ADA violations, to simply pocket the $4,000 in statutory damages with an additional couple of thousand for attorney’s fees.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams,[72] was a case in which the Supreme Court interpreted the meaning of the phrase "substantially impairs" as used in the Americans with Disabilities Act. It reversed a Sixth Court of Appeals decision to grant a partial summary judgment in favor of the respondent, Ella Williams, that qualified her inability to perform manual job-related tasks as a disability. The Court held that the "major life activity" definition in evaluating the performance of manual tasks focuses the inquiry on whether Williams was unable to perform a range of tasks central to most people in carrying out the activities of daily living. The issue is not whether Williams was unable to perform her specific job tasks. Therefore, the determination of whether an impairment rises to the level of a disability is not limited to activities in the workplace solely, but rather to manual tasks in life in general. When the Supreme Court applied this standard, it found that the Court of Appeals had incorrectly determined the presence of a disability because it relied solely on her inability to perform specific manual work tasks, which was insufficient in proving the presence of a disability. The Court of Appeals should have taken into account the evidence presented that Williams retained the ability to do personal tasks and household chores, such activities being the nature of tasks most people do in their daily lives, and placed too much emphasis on her job disability. Since the evidence showed that Williams was performing normal daily tasks, it ruled that the Court of Appeals erred when it found that Williams was disabled.[72][73] This ruling is now, however, no longer good law—it was invalidated by the ADAAA. In fact, Congress explicitly cited Toyota v. Williams in the text of the ADAAA itself as one of its driving influences for passing the ADAAA.
It should be understood that the initial response from the Department of Justice is preliminary. The process for ADA certification will undoubtedly take time; include public participation meetings, interaction with the United States Department of Justice, and rulemaking for building standards. It should therefore be assumed that the side-by-side analysis, including comment from the Department of Justice, is subject to revision. These documents are preliminary, are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as final determinations by the United States Department of Justice and/or the Division of the State Architect.

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.


Effective January 1, 2017, an individual employed under a special license in a nonprofit sheltered workshop or rehabilitation facility may bring an action under FEHA for any form of harassment or discrimination (CA Gov. Code Sec. 12926.05). An employer has an affirmative defense by proving that the challenged activity was permitted by statute or regulation and that it was necessary to serve employees with disabilities under a special license.
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.

Tennessee v. Lane[80], 541 U.S. 509 (2004), was a case in the Supreme Court of the United States involving Congress's enforcement powers under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. George Lane was unable to walk after a 1997 car accident in which he was accused of driving on the wrong side of the road. A woman was killed in the crash, and Lane faced misdemeanor charges of reckless driving. The suit was brought about because he was denied access to appear in criminal court because the courthouse had no elevator, even though the court was willing to carry him up the stairs and then willing to move the hearing to the first floor. He refused, citing he wanted to be treated as any other citizen, and was subsequently charged with failure to appear, after appearing at a previous hearing where he dragged himself up the stairs.[81] The court ruled that Congress did have enough evidence that the disabled were being denied those fundamental rights that are protected by the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and had the enforcement powers under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. It further ruled that "reasonable accommodations" mandated by the ADA were not unduly burdensome and disproportionate to the harm.[82]
I know there may have been concerns that the ADA may be too vague or too costly, or may lead endlessly to litigation. But I want to reassure you right now that my administration and the United States Congress have carefully crafted this Act. We've all been determined to ensure that it gives flexibility, particularly in terms of the timetable of implementation; and we've been committed to containing the costs that may be incurred.... Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.[41]
Title II prohibits disability discrimination by all public entities at the local level, e.g., school district, municipal, city, or county, and at state level. Public entities must comply with Title II regulations by the U.S. Department of Justice. These regulations cover access to all programs and services offered by the entity. Access includes physical access described in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design and programmatic access that might be obstructed by discriminatory policies or procedures of the entity.
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.
The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) rulemaking to create new website accessibility regulations is now officially dead, as we recently blogged. The lack of clear rules will lead to more litigation and inconsistent judicially-made law.  In fact, it appears that the DOJ will not be issuing any new regulations under Title III of the ADA about any subject, according to the agency’s December 26 announcement in the Federal Register repealing all pending ADA Title III rulemakings.

All work is required to comply with the applicable codes, standards and ordinances. Parking ordinances are typically adopted within each city and county in California. Consistent with the state’s policies on electric vehicles, DSA encourages city and county officials to recognize the necessary impact of EVCS and adopt responsive ordinances consistent with the local needs.


State agencies have been required, since January 1, 2017 by virtue of 2016 legislation, to comply with Section 508 in developing, procuring, maintaining, or using electronic or information technology “to improve accessibility of existing technology, and therefore increase the successful employment of individuals with disabilities, particularly blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing persons.” That statute, Government Code 7405, also requires entities that contract with state or local entities for the provision of electronic or information technology or related services to respond to and resolve any complaints regarding accessibility that are brought to the entity’s attention.

As of 2015 the ADA had improved access to public services, the built environment (e.g., crosswalks with curb cuts and accessible pedestrian signals), understanding of the abilities of people with disabilities, established a right to equal access to public services and has demonstrated the contributions which people with disabilities can make to the economy. Disparities have remained in employment, earned income, Internet access, transportation, housing, and educational attainment and the disabled remain at a disadvantage with respect to health and health care.[45]


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.
The Fair Housing Act is actually what governs the sort of modifications you are describing, not the ADA – and that has nothing to do with building codes of this sort. It requires that accommodations be made in a multifamily housing unit if they are “readily achievable”, which includes a few other requirements like being affordable – which can also get complicated, depending on what needs done, the landlord’s overall financial picture, and a whole lot more.
I moved into a HUD complex on April 1, 2014. Jan. 28, 2017 tenants on floors 7-8 were compensated and displaced for a complete makeover of our apartments, I live on 8. I returned on May 1, 2016. The first thing I noticed, my countertops had been lowered. Regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, this is ergonomically unacceptable for me, being I am 6’1.
Of the 814 federal cases, New York and Florida led the way with more than 335 and 325 cases, respectively. Surprisingly, California only had nine new website accessibility lawsuits in 2017, most likely because plaintiffs filed in state court.  Federal courts in Arizona (6), Georgia (9), Illinois (10), Massachusetts (15), New Hampshire (2), Michigan (1), New Jersey (4), Ohio (8), Pennsylvania (58), Puerto Rico (1), Texas (7), and Virginia (24) also had their share of website accessibility lawsuits.
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I am a hair dress in Los Angeles county. I have an opportunity to open my own salon however I would lease the space in a building on the second floor. There are other business’ on the second floor as well. This is a rather old building with only stairs, no elevator. Since this is a pre 1970 building, can I even open a new business in a building that is not ADA accessible?
I know there may have been concerns that the ADA may be too vague or too costly, or may lead endlessly to litigation. But I want to reassure you right now that my administration and the United States Congress have carefully crafted this Act. We've all been determined to ensure that it gives flexibility, particularly in terms of the timetable of implementation; and we've been committed to containing the costs that may be incurred.... Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.[41]
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employment practices that discriminate against an applicant or employee on the basis of an actual or perceived physical or mental disability or medical condition, unless the condition prevents the employee from performing the essential functions of the job or affects the health and safety of the individual or fellow employees. FEHA also prohibits discrimination based on an individual's genetic information and harassment based on an actual or perceived protected characteristic. FEHA covers private employers with five or more employees and all public employers, except for the harassment provision that applies to all public and private employers, regardless of size (CA Gov. Code Sec. 12926).
On September 25, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) into law. The amendment broadened the definition of "disability", thereby extending the ADA's protections to a greater number of people.[43] The ADAAA also added to the ADA examples of "major life activities" including, but not limited to, "caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working" as well as the operation of several specified major bodily functions.[43] The act overturned a 1999 US Supreme Court case that held that an employee was not disabled if the impairment could be corrected by mitigating measures; it specifically provides that such impairment must be determined without considering such ameliorative measures. It also overturned the court restriction that an impairment which substantially limits one major life activity must also limit others to be considered a disability.[43] In 2008, the United States House Committee on Education and Labor stated that the amendment "makes it absolutely clear that the ADA is intended to provide broad coverage to protect anyone who faces discrimination on the basis of disability."[44] Thus the ADAAA led to broader coverage of impaired employees.
I had a similar DMV experience as I was turning in paperwork required for a handicap placard and they are supposed to offer you the lower counter and seat, but the woman at my window right next to it seemed like a bit of a dumb bunny and didn’t think of it so I had to hang on to the edge of the counter while she fumbled with my papers not finding what was in front of her face. She had me leave, I had make calls to confirm my information and come back again when what she didn’t see was there the whole time. I think they need sensitivity training too. Often I have to tell them what to do and when they have to ask someone else there, what I told them was true.
If the lift encroaches into the City’s property (presuming they allow that), my concern is less regarding an ADA issue and more regarding a potential tripping hazard when the lift is down. WE have on occasion, when a temporary ramp is used to provide access over a single step, also used orange traffic cones to alert pedestrians about a potential tripping hazard.
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