October 01, 2020

Congress Addresses Website Accessibility

If you joined FiveL’s October webcast, “Happy Anniversary ADA!…” you heard about the trend of drive-by lawsuits, some valid, some not, claiming company websites are not accessible to individuals’ with disabilities in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). HR Pros and managers are familiar with Title I but deal with Title III less frequently. The latter deals with access to public accommodations, not the employment relationship directly like Title I.

This issue went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. The lawsuit was filed by a would-be applicant who was visually impaired. He claimed he was unable apply for a job through the company’s website, despite his use of an assistive reading device.  With no determination from SCOTUS, employers remain unclear as to what standards will be applied to determine if their public accommodations are reasonably accessible to individuals with disabilities.

So, on October 1st, H.R. 8478 was introduced into Congress. This bill would amend the ADA and add a new Section VI to include “consumer facing websites and mobile applications owned or operated by a private entity, to establish web accessibility compliance standards for such websites and mobile applications, and…require companies to ensure their websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities.”

As of this writing, the bill has only one co-sponsor. Employers small and large may want to monitor this bill’s progress and consider its implications to your company or business if passed and enacted.

If you missed the October webcast, click here and then on “View Session Recordings.” $25 pp and still provides 1.25 HRCI and SHRM credits.