Judge: private firm must pay damages over website not usable by blind

A number of court precedents suggest that private websites are generally not among the public accommodations and places of business subject to the handicap accessibility mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disabled rights litigators, assisted by the Obama administration, have been battering away at these precedents for years, and in March they secured a significant win as a California Superior Court judge ordered a private company, Colorado Bag ‘N’ Baggage, to pay $4,000 to a blind customer and revise its website. Notably, the judge’s ruling came in response to a summary judgment motion by the plaintiff, implying that in his view the business’s defense was not strong enough to justify trial [Bob Dorigo Jones, Jacob Gershman/WSJ Law Blog, Amanda Robert/Legal NewsLine/Forbes] If the notion of legally obligatory web accessibility were accepted, quite a large share of existing websites would be far out of compliance, with likely consequences including the emergence of cash-seeking filing mills and pressure to take down countless existing websites used for business, community and nonprofit activity, journalism, and so forth. More at our web accessibility tag.


  • Just FYI “handicap” is an archaic term. See http://ncdj.org/style-guide/ Thanks for posting on this. 25 years after the ADA, there is still a long way to go in ensuring society is accessible.

  • Whether or not the ADA requires this, it still feels like overlawyering. Rather than letting societal norms or economic incentives control the design of websites, we have one more aspect of our lives that is being dictated by lawyers interpreting statutes created by a distant legislature. And that distant legislature has zero idea how much prices will rise because of this. In other words, they have no idea if it’s worth it. Or else they believe that any cost is worth it.

    Also, Katy: the link you provide as evidence that “handicap” is an archaic term says that “[Handicap is] still widely used when citing laws…” That sounds exactly the opposite of archaic.

  • […] Judge: private firm must pay damages over website not usable by blind […]