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Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility


From: Cynthia Waddell
Date: Sep 9, 2006 1:10PM

Hello Jim-
This particular Target argument was one of many raised on the basis of the
ADA claim - not the Rehabilitation Act. In other words, there was not a
claim or cause of action in the complaint based on the Rehabilitation Act of
1973 and its amendments, including Section 508.

Oral arguments by both parties included a discussion on whether or not the
Target.com website was a "place of public accommodation." Although the
Rehabilitation Act is the grandfather of the ADA in that it paved the way
for protections to be extended to the private sector, it was not used by
Target for that reason.

The Order states that Target argued that although Congress has amended the
Rehabilitation Act to address accessible EIT, Congress did not amend the
ADA. Target was arguing legislative intent. On this sub-argument, this
Court concluded that it could not infer that Congress intended the ADA to
apply to the Internet.

The issue of whether or not a website is a "place of public accommodation"
is still alive since the Court declined to dismiss the complaint on this
basis. Both sides presented arguments addressing case law where some
jurisdictions say it is a "place of public accommodations" while others say
it is not. I discuss these cases in my chapters for the Apress publication
that was released in July - Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory

I hope this answers your question.

Cynthia Waddell

Cynthia D. Waddell, JD
Executive Director and
Law, Policy and Technology Consultant
International Center for Disability Resources
on the Internet (ICDRI)
Phone: (408) 691-6921

ICDRI is based in
Raleigh, North Carolina USA

See My New Book!
Web Accessibility: Web Standards and
Regulatory Compliance by Apress
at www.icdri.org/WSR_Book.htm
Other Publications Include:
Constructing Accessible Web Sites

Is your Site Accessible?
Find out now with Cynthia Says! http://www.cynthiasays.com
Endorsed by the American Council of the Blind,
the Cynthia SaysTM portal is a joint Education
and Outreach project of ICDRI, The Internet
Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter,
and HiSoftware.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Tobias [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Saturday, September 09, 2006 10:03 AM
Subject: RE: Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility

Cynthia -- thanks so much for this. I have one question, below.

Jim Tobias
Inclusive Technologies
+732.441.0831 v/tty

> 1. In Footnote 2, the Court suggests that the legislative history of
> the ADA is inconclusive on the issue of regulating private websites.
> As a result, the Court declines to draw an inference since there is an
> absence of congressional action.
> Target argued that although Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to
> require federal government websites to be accessible, Congress has not
> amended the ADA.

Here's my non-lawyerly understanding:

The 1998 version of Congress's 508 language is different from previous
versions, but not with respect to requiring websites to be accessible. The
differences have to do with the process of establishing standards, having
DoJ do reports, etc. All the language about the accessibility of federal
E&IT was in the previous versions. It may be that the definition of E&IT
changed at some point in an update of Clinger-Cohen.

Is that correct? If so, was Target's argument addressed in court?