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Retailers’ Websites Face Scrutiny Under the Americans With Disabilities Act


A recent California court ruling has put retailers and other companies with web presences on notice about compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Edward Davis v. BMI/BND Travelware, targeted a retailer for allegedly violating the ADA, but not for its brick-and-mortar operations. Rather, the lawsuit took aim at the retailer’s website, arguing it lacked screen-reading software and other accommodations to enable the plaintiff, who is blind, to browse and shop online.

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge ruled for the plaintiff and ordered the retailer to pay $4,000 plus legal fees, and to change its website to make it accessible to customers with visual impairments and other disabilities. The case is seen by some legal experts as potentially opening the door to similar ADA litigation against an array of corporate websites.

Although there had not been a federal or state court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in an ADA website lawsuit until the California court ruling, there have been significant settlements, including a $6 million payout by a major department store in 2008.

In addition to legal expenses, ADA-related lawsuits can take their toll in terms of adverse publicity. “Retailers’ Websites Face Scrutiny Under the Americans With Disabilities Act” covers specific actions retailers can take to help ensure their websites are ADA-compliant.