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Disabled people sue retailers over e-commerce sites

Suits claim companies are obligated to make websites as accessible as stores

Since Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, retailers nationwide have been required to make their stores accessible to disabled people by installing automatic doors, ramps and other modifications. But as retailers continue to focus on building their online sales, advocates for disabled people say companies must modify their websites to accommodate individuals with hearing and sight impairments, just as they’ve done with their brick-and-mortar stores.

Most courts have dismissed cases in which advocates argue that the ADA applies to the Internet. “Congress never contemplated the Internet at the time [it enacted the ADA], and if they had, they would have included it,” Santa Clara University School of Law Professor Eric Goldman told the Wall Street Journal.

Nonetheless, the national Federal of the Blind and the National Association of the Deaf have won cases against companies including Netflix Inc. and Target Corp. Other companies, including eBay Inc., Monster.com, Ticketmaster and Travelocity, have worked with the advocate groups to make their site more accessible.

What’s more, the Department of Justice is expected to issue new regulations on website accessibility later this year, which could expand the ADA’s jurisdiction over websites.

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Ashley Post

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