Oct 31, 2017 at 3:18pm ET By Alyssa Walker

In September, eight lawsuits were filed in federal court in Manhattan against New York schools that failed to make their websites accessible to a blind student—and are therefore in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The New York Times story explained that these lawsuits are growing. The US federal law requires that public accommodations need to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Advocates and lawyers now argue that websites are public spaces that need to be accessible, with captions or audio descriptions.

The argument isn’t new. Since 2015, there have been at least 751 lawsuits on the issue—37 related to schools accused of noncompliance with disability law. Advocates for deaf students sued Harvard and MIT for not captioning online lectures and other course materials.

In the article, Arlene Kanter, director of the Disability Law and Policy Program at Syracuse University’s law school said, “As more and more students are aware of their rights, and as websites have become so much of what universities now focus on, in their marketing materials for example, it’s not surprising to me that there will be an increase in these types of lawsuits.”

What will happen? The outcome is unclear. The Americans With Disabilities Act, written in 1990, does not mention the internet. The Department of Justice has issued guidelines about the internet, but they’re not in place—and they’re not yet part of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Learn more about studying law.

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

Add your comment

News

image
December 18, 2018

After taking two social studies classes during her four years of high school in Rhode Island, 17-year-old Aleita Cook had never taken civics, governme...


image
December 11, 2018

New York's Long Island law schools are upping their tech standards to prepare the 1,300 law students currently there for a career in law. Let's take a...


image
December 4, 2018

Despite the rolling admissions process that many law schools use, experts in the field recommend that law school applicants apply earlier than not. Wh...


comments powered by Disqus