Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Massachusetts Judge Rules that the ADA Applies to Web-based Companies
The 22nd anniversary of the ADA was a few weeks ago, but there are still companies that are trying to wiggle their way out of complying with the law. A recent lawsuit from Netflix has brought up the issue of whether web-based companies are included under the law.
Netflix was sued by the National Association of the Deaf over lack of closed captioning. Netflix then claimed that the case should be dismissed since the ADA doesn’t cover companies that don’t have a physical location that customers can visit. Thankfully, the judge ruled that, in fact, the ADA does apply to web-based companies and that the only reason it’s not specified in the law is because it was written before these types of companies existed.
This ruling could have broad based implications because it means that companies must accommodate customers and give them the same amount of access in all situations. In the case of Netflix, this ruling could mean that closed captioning will become mandatory on all streaming television sites, such as Hulu, and the regular television network’s websites. It could also mean that websites will have to be accessible to assistive technology users.
As a Netflix subscriber this is even more important to me. I can’t utilize closed captioning, but as a paying customer, if I’m denied access because of inaccessibility issues, I can argue that I should be reimbursed financially if I was denied access to content.
We’re finding that more often than not, services are being offered online and it’s definitely an exciting time because information and entertainment are more available than ever. With this new emergence in technology and convenience, it’s comforting to know that laws established before this all existed can be applied and enforced. If this most recent ruling went the other way, it would have taken a long time for a precedent to be set that would work in our favor.
To read the full article and the judge’s ruling visit this link: http://www.nad.org/news/2012/6/landmark-precedent-nad-vs-netflix