The Florida Chamber of Commerce encourages members and businesses to self-check their websites in a time where growing awareness of accessibility compliance — specifically for customers attempting to shop online — can lead to litigation if overlooked.
Because U.S. courts have determined that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III’s accessibility requirements apply to commercial websites of companies offering physical public accommodations, entrepreneurs are accountable to a new level of regulation in Florida.
First noted in the northeastern U.S. approximately two years ago, Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuits have begun to surface in South Florida. A class action complaint filed recently targeted Urban Outfitters with allegations that the company’s website is not manageable for blind customers.
Access for the vision-impaired is not the only possible stumbling block. For example, individuals with epilepsy must be able to navigate websites without risk of seizure — a measure that can be achieved within the writing of its software code structure.
To date, the U.S. Department of Justice has not vigorously pursued existing claims, although it is sanctioned to impose fiscal penalties, because most disability-related lawsuits are filed with the goal of recovering legal fees rather than compliance. The Florida Chamber stated that many are initiated as “tests” to obtain injunctive relief, or future conformity with the law.
Consequently, the Florida Chamber urges all business owners with an online presence to audit their sites, including mobile apps, for accessibility and to ensure inclusiveness.