Federal Disability Discrimination Law Does Not Require Websites Be Accessible, Appeals Court Holds

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors' offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards.


A website is not a “place of public accommodation” and an inaccessible website is not necessarily equal to the denial of goods or services, a federal appeals court has held in a groundbreaking decision on disability discrimination under Title III—Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.


While the Eleventh Circuit joins several other circuits in holding a website is not a “place of public accommodation” under Title III, it went further in expressly holding that, under the facts of the case, an inaccessible website is not necessarily tantamount to the denial of goods or services because the website lacked an auxiliary aid that would enable the website to be read aloud by screen-reader technology.


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