I work in web development for various businesses. Many of these operate storefronts and have other information that, in the physical world, would need to be provided in a way that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities act.

As a web developer, I'm aware that soon, the government is going to get more serious about enforcing accessibility on business websites as they would at the brick and mortar store, and there have already been lawsuits judged in favor of the plaintiff for websites that failed to provide accessibility options for visitors, so that leads to my question:

If a client has a lot of PDF files, many of which are images, would it be considered "in compliance" to have a form to request these in an accessible (screen reader/Braille keyboard) format (such as raw HTML or plaintext)?

In my mind, this is the same as having to ask the waitstaff for a braille menu at a restaurant, but I could see there being different implications on the internet, where the request may not be met in a "timely" manner.

Much thanks.

1 Answer 1


There are present no standards, so it's anyone's guess. Rumors abound that the DoJ will adopt WCAP 2.0 (this seems to be the adopted standard for government websites), but that matter has been unresolved for many years. A recent (March 20) dismissal of a blind plaintiff's lawsuit against Domino's rejected the argument that ADA does not apply to websites, but agreed that having telephone access (to order pizza) satisfies the requirement; it also agreed that businesses have not been given fair notice what the standards to be enforced are.

Not all websites constitute "public accommodations" (which are what is regulated). 42 USC 12181(7) defines "public accommodation", being something that "affects commerce", and falls into one of twelve categories (hotel, restaurant, theater, store that sells stuff or provides a service, museum, etc). It's not clear what would not be a public accommodation, though there is ample case law that goes both ways, for instance Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Scribd Inc., 97 F. Supp. 3d 565 (although Scribd has no physical location, it is a public accommodation), Cullen v. Netflix, Inc., 880 F. Supp. 2d 1017 (Netflix has no physical location and is therefore not a public accommodation). Either Congress of SCOTUS will need to sort this out.

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