Articles Posted in Compliance

Target Corporation was sued under the ADA for inaccessibility of its website

We gave you an early heads up about how lawsuits brought under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) can target your website or online reservation system . . . and what you should do about it now. (See “How your company’s website can make you a target for ADA lawsuits”.)

Now there is much more.

How can the ADA apply to web sites?

While most hoteliers are aware of how the ADA affects architectural barriers, paths of travel, parking spaces, swimming pools and even guests’ service animals, a recent court ruling has opened up an entirely new area to litigation: websites.

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted by Congress in July 1990, the Internet was in its infancy and few, if any, considered its applicability to cyberspace. But a San Francisco Federal judge’s recent decision not to dismiss a discrimination case against retailer Target Corporation has brought the issue to the forefront. Believed to be the first court ruling determining that the ADA’s architectural barrier requirements can apply to the Website of a private business, the stage is now set for increased ADA litigation involving Web accessibility.

As most hotel owners and operators know, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by “public accommodations,” including places of lodging. This requires facilities to be designed, constructed, and altered – where “readily achievable”– in compliance with the accessibility standards as set forth in the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).

The ADAAG standards – last revised in 1994 – are being amended by the Access Board, Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice (DOJ). It is expected that the proposed ADAAG standards will be adopted substantially as drafted.

The hospitality industry has been keenly interested and involved in this process. For example, at one point, the Access Board proposed that 50% of all guest rooms be made accessible with hearing impaired devices. But industry experts estimated the economic conversion cost at nearly $3,000 per room, and in the final version of the Access Board’s proposed guidelines, the requirement has been lowered to 9% of all guest rooms.