Hundreds of businesses have faced federal lawsuits claiming they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These Department of Justice (DOJ) actions claimed that the websites or apps weren’t accessible to deaf, blind or vision-impaired individuals. Many got settled, because litigating against the feds requires considerable time and money.

While the ADA is known for the workplace protections it offers, it also prohibits excluding people with disabilities in other ways. Simply put, “places of public accommodation” must be accessible. Although the law isn’t firmly settled, places of public accommodation has been interpreted to include apps and websites.

What does this mean for your website or apps?

If your business is governed by the ADA (and to be sure, most are), your website and apps should be reviewed – and revised if necessary – for ADA compliance. Ensure they’re accessible to individuals with disabilities such as vision and hearing impairments. For example, the DOJ recently ruled that UC Berkeley violated the ADA because its YouTube videos didn’t include captions for the hearing-impaired.

We expect the DOJ to issue more guidance on the ADA’s applicability to apps and websites in 2018. In the meantime, though, it’s important to ensure that both your physical and electronic spaces are accessible to those with disabilities. Contact us if you have questions about this thorny topic.