Who has to be ADA compliant?

There’s a common misbelief that ADA only applies to very large corporations, but that’s a serious mistake. All types and all sizes of businesses have to comply with ADA legislation, for their customers, and for their employees if there are over 15 employees. That means that ADA affects:

  • Places of entertainment like theaters, movie theaters, and concert halls

  • Restaurants and eateries

  • Small and medium businesses of all types

  • Large enterprises

  • Retail stores

  • Local government offices, employment agencies, and labor unions

Is ADA compliance mandatory for websites?

It was clear from the beginning that ADA affected every kind of business in the physical realm, but it’s less obvious that it covers websites and online spaces. The 1990 bill obviously did not predict today’s huge breadth of internet use. The past decade brought a range of rulings from the U.S. courts, that websites do not qualify as a "public place of accommodation."

However, as the internet became more important and websites played a bigger role in the way that consumers interact with businesses, the way that ADA is applied to web accessibility began to change.

Since 2017, a clear consensus emerged that ADA also covers the online world. Disability rights activists, legal scholars, and court rulings have agreed that websites, internet portals, and online stores also need to be accessible for people with disabilities.

In September 2018, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote an official letter to members of Congress that said “The Department first articulated its interpretation that the ADA applies to public accommodations' websites over 20 years ago. This interpretation is consistent with the ADA's...requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities."

Today, U.S. courts apply ADA accessibility requirements to the online domain, which means that websites should comply with ADA rules.


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