Phone calls and emails are not sufficient alternatives to having an accessible website
As you’re probably already aware, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not explicitly state that the Web is a “Place of Public Accommodation”. During the Obama administration, the US Department of Justice issued several Amicus Briefs to court cases in which they said that it was their position that the Web was a Place of Public Accommodation. But an Amicus Brief is not the same as having this stuff written directly into the regulation itself.
This lack of clarity has bigger implications than you’d think. First, well-meaning companies who want to make things accessible in order to reduce their risk of lawsuit don’t know what amount of accessibility is required. Second, defense lawyers may attempt to argue that ADA Title III doesn’t apply to the Web or that alternate means of access is sufficient.
On this latter point, we’ve recently become aware of a case that clarifies this. In a Judgment delivered in May, the court ruled that phone calls and emails are not sufficient alternatives to having an accessible website.
“In addition to awarding $4,000 in statutory damages, the court issued an injunction to the defendants, ordering them to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA to ensure their website is ADA compliant.”