Equisolve receives ISO 27001 & 27018 certifications. You can download the certificates here. 

Current federal and state laws

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Many lawsuits and proposed regulations rely on the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), a civil rights act meant to end discrimination against those with disabilities. While the ADA mentions places of public accommodation, the rapidly evolving digital landscape and importance of websites in conducting every day business create an argument that websites should be considered public accommodations.

The ADA is made of three titles:

  • Title I applying to protections in the workplace
  • Title II applying to protections in government
  • Title III applying to protections in business. Many suits filed and demand letters sent to businesses cite a violation of Title III.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 contains two sections, Section 504 and Section 508, addressing discrimination on the basis of disability and requiring accessibility of electronic and information technology for federal programs and agencies.

State and local civil rights laws cited in lawsuits

Many states have implemented civil rights laws that expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. These laws are also cited in the website accessibility cases that are filed at the federal district court level. Below are a few examples of state and local civil rights laws that have been referenced in recent cases in the Second and Ninth Federal Circuits:

California's Unruh Civil Rights Act

New York State Human Rights Law

New York City Human Rights Law

New York State Civil Rights Law

Please note: This is NOT an exhaustive list. Refer to your state and local codes for more information.

State law about website accessibility litigation

In 2023, the Act Against Abusive Website Access Litigation went into effect in Kansas. The law came about as a result of excessive numbers of frivolous lawsuits surrounding ADA compliance on websites.

Active Litigation Landscape

4.6K

digital accessibility lawsuits filed in 2023

75%

of digital accessibility lawsuits filed in NY
Source: Data from UsableNet

Growing number of cases in federal courts

Thousands of website accessibility cases are filed in the federal courts each year. Absent specific web accessibility guidelines, courts are split on whether the ADA applies to websites and if it does, what compliance with the ADA means for the digital space.

Notable Circuit Court decisions*

6th Circuit

Brintley v. Aeroquip Credit Union in the 6th Circuit discusses whether a plaintiff suffers an injury under Title III through use of a website.

7th Circuit

Doe v. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company in the 7th Circuit cites a 1st Circuit case (Carparts Distribution Center, Inc. v. Automotive Wholesalers' Ass'n of New England, Inc.) in stating that the ADA Title III would also apply to websites.

9th Circuit

Robles v. Domino's Pizza, LLC in the 9th Circuit is a landmark case that held that the ADA does apply to websites.

11th Circuit

Gil v. Winn-Dixie in the 11th Circuit is another landmark case that held that the ADA does not apply to websites. However, this case has had some negative treatment since the ruling.

* As new cases are filed daily, the above list is not meant to serve as the most up-to-date case law in any given jurisdiction. This is a rapidly developing area of law and you should consult your attorney for what the current legal requirements are in your state.

Regulation Fair Disclosure and accessibility

Accessibility may also be implicated in Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD), the SEC regulation that requires simultaneous disclosure. Having an inaccessible IR website, filings, or press releases could mean not simultaneously disclosing material information to potential investors or stakeholders with disabilities.

Read Regulation Fair Disclosure

Recent Department of Justice actions

Website accessibility has also been in the spotlight within the Department of Justice (DOJ) through recently issued guidance and rulemaking, Dear Colleague Letters, and even settlements with companies.

Recent guidance on website accessibility

In 2022, the DOJ released guidance on website accessibility requirements and best practices. In this guidance, the DOJ takes the position that the ADA extends to all services that are open to the public, including those offered online.

Read DOJ website accessibility guidance

Notice of Proposed Rule Making

In 2023, the DOJ announced that it will be writing rules for website accessibility relating to Title II of the ADA. Experts have predicted that Title III regulations will follow.

Read DOJ notice of proposed rule making

Enforcement through Dear Colleague Letters

Healthcare

In April 2023, the DOJ issued a Dear Colleague Letter to communicate the requirements around accessible communications with patients in the healthcare section. This letter cites both Title II and Title III of the ADA.

Read DOJ healthcare Dear Colleague Letter

Education

In combination with the Department of Education, the DOJ released a Dear Colleague Letter to universities. This letter communicated the requirements of universities to maintain accessible online services, programs, and activities.

Read DOJ education Dear Colleague Letter

Settlements with public and private companies

In 2021 and 2022, the DOJ engaged in settlements with several public and private companies as a result of their inaccessible websites and customer portals. These settlements required the companies to remediate their existing websites to meet website accessibility standards and to maintain accessible websites moving forward.

CVS Pharmacy

Meijer, Inc.

The Kroger Co.

Hy-Vee, Inc.

Rite Aid Corporation

Proposed accessibility legislation

Federal legislation

Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act

In 2023, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois introduced the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act in the U.S. Senate. This signals that website accessibility is becoming a national conversation. U.S. Representative John Sarbanes also introduced an identical bill in the House of Representatives in 2023.

Read Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act

Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act of 2023

In 2023, U.S. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts introduced the Communications, Video, and Technology Act in the U.S. Senate. This bill discusses specific requirements around media and communications services. U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo also introduced an identical bill in the House of Representatives in 2023.

Read Communications, Video, and Technology Act

ACCESS Act

In 2023, U.S. Representative Ken Calvert introduced the ACCESS Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill directs the Department of Justice to study certain web content accessibility standards and develop a program to educate state and local governments and property owners on strategies to promote ADA compliance.

Read the ACCESS Act

TLDR Act

In 2023, U.S. Representative Lori Trahan introduced the TLDR Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill directs the Federal Trade Commission to issue a rule requiring all businesses that maintain a website for commercial purposes to post an accessible summary of their Terms of Service on their website. U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy introduced an identical bill in the U.S. Senate in 2023.

Read the TLDR Act

State legislation

In 2023, Assembly Bill 1757 was introduced in the California legislature. This bill set out specific requirements for businesses, referencing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Read California AB 1757

Privacy and accessibility

Accessibility language can be found in state privacy laws as well. Several laws require certain pages on a website to be accessible. Below are several state privacy bills with accessibility language, listed by effective date.

Federal legislation

In 2023, U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo introduced the Online Privacy Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill contains much of the same language surrounding accessible webpages that the state privacy laws have.

Read the Online Privacy Act

State legislation

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) resources

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the industry standard guidelines for website accessibility. The WCAG is referenced in the DOJ 2022 guidance, recently introduced legislation, and in numerous court cases.

The latest version of the WCAG is 2.2.

Additional resources

IR Website Privacy Laws

IR Website Privacy Laws

Reg FD & Accessibility

Reg FD & Accessibility

ESG & Accessibility

ESG & Accessibility

IR Website ADA Compliance

IR Website ADA Compliance