Are Disabled Individuals Discriminated Against by Online Shopping Websites?

Disabled persons are entitled to certain accommodations when shopping in retail establishments pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and according to advocates for disabled Americans, those rights extend to online retail establishments as well.

While the ADA requires equal access to “public accommodations,” including restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters, recreational facilities, and other physical spaces, it makes no mention of a website as a public accommodation. Although arguments that websites are covered by the ADA have previously been rejected by various courts, the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association of the Deaf recently won legal victories against Target and Netflix, both of which settled cases after federal judges ruled their websites were within the purview of the ADA.

Until now, most courts have ruled that online stores are not covered by the ADA since Congress didn’t contemplate the Internet at the time the legislation was enacted, but that could soon change since the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to issue new regulations regarding website accessibility later this year.

If the Department of Justice expands the ADA to include online retail establishments, websites could be required to include spoken descriptions of photos and text boxes for the blind, along with captions and transcriptions for the deaf, Jared Smith, associate director of WebAIM, told the Wall Street Journal. In fact, some companies, including eBay and Ticketmaster, have already made alterations to their websites in order accommodate deaf and blind persons.

Smith also advises companies to allow for website navigation without a mouse to accommodate those persons with motor disabilities and to use plain language to aid those with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.

The Chicago disability attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC focus on protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities, including helping them obtain the benefits and compensation to which they are entitled such SSDI and/or SSI. Hearing impairments and blindness are both identified as qualifying conditions that entitle a person to Social Security disability benefits if he or she is unable to work as a result of the condition.

If you suffer would like more information about website accessibility or would like to learn more about disability benefits, contact Ankin Law Office at (800) 442-6546 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago disability attorneys.