Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities from “places of public accommodations” or private businesses that are open to the public, such as restaurants, bars, hotels, grocery stores, hardware stores, clothing stores, banks, movie theaters, museums, libraries, gyms, zoos, schools, and doctor’s offices.
To fall under Title III, a business of public accommodation needs to affect interstate commerce (i.e., affect more than just commerce within one state).
Even though there is no specific federal statute that states 1) websites must be accessible and 2) outlines how websites should be accessible, courts are now overwhelmingly finding that an inaccessible website is a violation of the ADA.
What constitutes an accessible website?
WCAG 2.0 AA is a frequently referenced guide to in making your website accessible.
However, not meeting every WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria doesn’t necessarily mean your website is inaccessible and in violation of the ADA. Entities have flexibility in how they make their website accessible so long as they do so.
Assistant Attorney General, Stephen E. Boyd emphasized this in a letter to Congress:
Absent the adoption of specific technical requirements for websites through rulemaking, public accommodations have flexibility in how to comply with the ADA’s general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication. Accordingly, noncompliance with a voluntary technical standard for website accessibility does not necessarily indicate noncompliance with the ADA.”