The question of whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to websites has been simmering for several years. (Sherry Karabin, Companies, Courts Debate Whether ADA Applies to Web Sites (September 6, 2007) www.law.com.) The answer is coming into focus. On Wednesday, after several years of litigation, Target Corp. agreed to a settlement with the National Federation of the Blind that calls for Target Corp. to pay out $6 million in damages and make its website fully accessible to blind customers. (Evan Hill, Settlement Over Target's Web Site Marks a Win for ADA Plaintiffs (August 28, 2008) www.law.com.) Judge Marilyn Hall Patel likely moved the parties closer to settlement after ruling that the ADA and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act both apply to businesses' websites.
Other companies have decided to avoid litigation (probably to foster more goodwill with consumers). Amazon.com and RadioShack both agreed to make changes to their sites without protracted litigation. Following Target's settlement, I think it is likely that online retailers can expect a rapid surge in litigation of this type. And frankly, the only reason why I am not 100% certain that this area of litigation will explode is that Internet-linked issues seem to deter some otherwise confident litigators because of an irrational fear of all things digital.