SAM Magazine—Washington, D.C., Feb. 16, 2018—More than 60 ski areas and resort companies have now been sued for allegations over inaccessible websites for the visually and hearing impaired under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the most recent NSAA Capitol Watch. To combat this trend, NSAA representatives went to Washington D.C. this month to meet with key lawmakers and Justice Department officials who can help move regulation and guidance along.
At the heart of the issue is a federal judge’s order last fall asking the DOJ to provide the federal court with guidance on how businesses were supposed to comply with website accessibility under the ADA without guidance or regulations from the Justice Department. The DOJ has ignored this order, and thus the lawsuits persist.
In a meeting with Christina Galindo-Walsh, the deputy chief of the Disability Rights Section of the Justice Department, NSAA representatives communicated “deep frustration with the lack of guidance from DOJ,” and presented the Justice Department a map of all the ski areas that are being sued—Utah, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Hampshire lead all states with the number of ski areas being sued.
Galindo-Walsh stated that she could not “comment” on the DOJ’s failure to comply with the federal court’s order seeking guidance, but she conceded they were “aware” of the court’s “request.” NSAA also suggested to Galindo-Walsh that the DOJ could simply intervene by informing courts that until there are regulations, using an 800 telephone service to assist the visually and hearing impaired could satisfy the required “effective communication.”. The deputy chief refused to address whether she felt this proposal was a workable solution.
NSAA is making several other efforts to get the DOJ to provide courts with some sort of guidance regarding the ADA lawsuits, including reaching out to other affected business groups and trade associations to form a collective front that will wield more influence.
For more information about the ADA website accessibility issue, read the most recent post from Propeller Media Works, which specializes in ADA website compliance.