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Federal Court Ruling in Miami Could Affect ADA Compliance Issues on a National Level

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A recent decision by a Miami federal court centered on the issue of website accessibility could have significant impacts on ADA compliance issues across the country.

Judge Robert Scola ruled that Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. violated the rights of a blind customer as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act by not making its website usable via screen reader applications, which have been around in varying forms for several decades. This is the first time the issue came to trial in America, meaning the decision sets the precedent for future cases and classifies a company’s website as a “public accommodation” under the law.

Winn-Dixie operates hundreds of stores across the southeastern part of the United States. The company argued that the plaintiff’s rights were not being violated, because the company was not denying him physical access to any of its stores in any way.

However, the ADA does not only require companies to provide physical access. According to Judge Scola, the law must be interpreted to mean customers with disabilities are able to benefit from the same services as any other person. This includes access to coupons, ability to discretely fill prescriptions and ability to use the same digital platforms as any other customer.

Judge Scola also indicated that the cost of making a website accessible for blind users (estimated at $37,000 for Winn-Dixie) was insignificant in comparison to the millions of dollars the corporation has spent on its digital assets over the last several years.

What does this mean for ADA compliance?

Moving forward, this decision could lead to some additional questions and potential legal challenges.

If a website is not exempt from the rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act, what would happen with other digital assets used for marketing and customer service? Are digital signs placed inside a business, for example, subject to the same ADA compliance rules as other signs placed throughout the premises?

For more information about what standards your signage needs to meet to be ADA complaint, contact us today at Erie Custom Signs.

Filed Under: ADA News

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