Forthcoming Student Note on Internet Accessibility
New on SSRN: Courtney L. Burks, Improving Access to Commercial Websites Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, Iowa Law Review, forthcoming. The abstract:
In 1990, Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") — one of the most comprehensive set of antidiscrimination laws to date. Title III of the ADA requires private businesses to make reasonable efforts to ensure that disabled individuals are able to access their "place[s] of public accommodation." However, as the internet has grown more ubiquitous in Americans’ lives, there have been debates whether a commercial website is a place of public accommodation under Title III. In order to help ensure that the disabled community is not left behind as the nation’s dependence on web-based technology increases, Congress enacted the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act ("CVAA"). This Note examines conflicting interpretations of Title III, and how the CVAA may affect the ADA’s application to commercial websites. This Note concludes by arguing that a broad definition of “place of public accommodation” is in line with the history and purpose of the ADA, and federal regulations imposing uniform technical accessibility standards are needed in order to diminish the accessibility barriers to websites that fall within the scope of Title III.