Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project

American Disabilities Act

- ADA and the Net
- ADA Reference

- Accessibility
- Sec 504
- Sec 508
- FCC Sec 255
- Education
- Assistive Tech Act 
- Accessible Design
- Accessibility Law Chart

| ADA | ADA and the Net | ADA Notes |


  • American Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 327
  • Title I (Places of Employment): 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111, 12117 (2003); 29 CFR Parts 1603, 1630 (EEOC) . See EEOC Fact Sheet: Work at Home: Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation (February, 3, 2003) ("The ADA does not require an employer to offer a telework program to all employees. However, if an employer does offer telework, it must allow employees with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in such a program.")
  • Enforcement: Title I complaints must be filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge is filed with a designated State or local fair employment practice agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in Federal court only after they receive a "right-to-sue" letter from the EEOC. See US Department of Justice, A Guide to Disability Rights Law (August 2001).
  • Title II (State and Local Government): “[N]o qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42 USC § 12131. See also 28 CFR Parts 35, 36 (Dept. of Justice).
  • Enforcement: Complaints of title II violations may be filed with the Department of Justice within 180 days of the date of discrimination. In certain situations, cases may be referred to a mediation program sponsored by the Department. The Department may bring a lawsuit where it has investigated a matter and has been unable to resolve violations. Title II may also be enforced through private lawsuits in Federal court. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or any other Federal agency, or to receive a "right to sue" letter, before going to court. See US Department of Justice, A Guide to Disability Rights Law (August 2001).
  • US DOJ, Title II of the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Discrimination Complaint Form.
  • Title II (Public Transportation) 49 CFR Part 37 (Dept. of Transportation). In particular, 47 CFR § 37.167(f) states "The entity shall make available to individuals with disabilities adequate information concerning transportation services. This obligation includes making adequate communications capacity available, through accessible formats and technology, to enable users to obtain information and schedule service." If public transportation receives federal funds, it may fall under Sec. 504 obligations.
  • Title III (Places of Public Accomodation): 28 CFR Parts 35, 36 (Dept. of Justice).
  • Place of public accomidation:
  • 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104 (list of places of public accomodation)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7); 28 CFR s 36.104. (private places and religious entities are not covered)
  • Enforcement: Complaints of title III violations may be filed with the Department of Justice. In certain situations, cases may be referred to a mediation program sponsored by the Department. The Department is authorized to bring a lawsuit where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of title III, or where an act of discrimination raises an issue of general public importance. Title III may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (or any Federal agency), or receive a "right-to-sue" letter, before going to court. See US Department of Justice, A Guide to Disability Rights Law (August 2001); US DOJ, How to File a Title III Complaint.
  • Title IV (Telecommunications): 47 U.S.C. § 255; 47 CFR § 64.601 et seq. (FCC).
  • Opinion Letters
  • US DOJ Opinion on Web Accessibility Letter to Sen. Harkin (1996) (concluding that Title III of ADA applies to commercial websites)
  • US Dept Ed., Office of Civil Rights Letter to President Rosser, California State University (April 1997) (concluding that computer and Internet resources of the university fall under Title II of ADA and under Sec. 504, that Internet would fall within "effective communications").
  • US Dept. Ed., Office of Civil Rights Letter to Dr. Robert Caret, President, San Jose University (Jan. 1996) (concluding that the Internet falls within "effective communications" for purposes of title II of the ADA and Sec. 504).
  • Who can you Contact?

    U.S. Department of Justice ADA Information Line
    For ADA documents and questions
    800-514-0301 (voice)
    800-514-0383 (TTY)

    US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    1801 L Street NW
    Washington, D.C. 20507
    800-669-4000 (voice)
    800-669-6820 (TTY)

    U.S. Department of Justice
    Civil Rights Division
    Disability Rights Section
    P.O. Box 66738
    Washington, DC 20035-6738

    U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
    1331 F Street, NW Suite 1000 Washington, DC 20004-1111
    800-872-2253 (voice)
    800-993-2822 (TTY)

    United States Department of Education
    Office of Education and Rehabilitation Services
    Office of Special Education Programs
    330 C Street SW Room 3086
    Washington, D.C. 20202
    202-205-5507 (voice/TDD)

    United States Department of Education
    Office of Civil Rights
    330 C Street SW
    Washington, DC 20202
    877-521-2171 (TDD)

    Office of Civil Rights
    Federal Transit Administration
    US Department of Transportation
    400 Seventh Street, SW Room 9102
    Washington, D.C. 20590
    202 366-2285 Voice
    202 366-0153 TTY


    Government Activity



  • Rendon v. Valleycrest Productions Ltd. , 294 F.3d 1279 (11th Cir. 2002) (telephone-based selection process for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is a public accomodation)
  • Pallozzi v. Allstate Life Ins. Co., 198 F.3d 28 (2d Cir. 2000), reh'g denied , 204 F.3d 392 (2d Cir. 2000) (holding public accomodation does not need to be a physical location; ADA applies to insurance offerings)
  • Hooks v. OKBridge, Inc., No. 99-50891 (5th Cir. Aug. 24, 2000).
  • Brief of the United States as Amicus Curiae in Support of Appellant ("This Court should reverse the district court's holding that Title III of the ADA does not apply to a commercial business providing services on the internet and its holding that OKBridge is exempt from the Act as a private club.")
  • Weyer v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 198 F.3d 1104, 1114 (9th Cir. 2000) (concluding that places of public accomodation are "actual, physical places).
  • Doe v. Mutual of Ohama Ins. Co., 179 F.3d 557 (7th Cir. 1999) (Posner: website is a place of public accomodation. p. 559: "The core meaning of [42 U.S.C. § 12182(a)], plainly enough, is that the owner or operator of a store, hotel, restaurant dentist's office, travel agency, theater, Web site, or other facility (whether in physical space or in electronic space), that is open to the public cannot exclude disabled persons from entering the facility and, once in, from using the facility in the same way that the nondisabled do.")
  • Ford v. Schering-Plough Corp., 145 F.3d 601 (3rd Cir. 1998) (employee benefit plan not covered)
  • Parker v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 121 F.3d 1006 (6th Cir. 1997) (access to employee benefit plan not covered as places of public accommodation must be physical places)
  • Carparts Distribution Ctr., Inc. v. Automotive Wholesalers Assoc. of New England, Inc., 37 F3d 12, 19-20 (1st Cir. 1994) ('holding that "public accomodations" encompasses more than actual physical structures and includes the defendant insurance company')

    • Stern v. Sony Corp. of America , 09-cv-o7710 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 23, 2009) (filed - arguing that Sony's online games are places of public accomodation and fails to provide necessary accomodations)
    • National Federation of the Blind v Target, (NDCA)
    • Memorandum & OrderPDF Denying Defendants Motion to Dismiss (Sept 6, 2006) ("Plaintiff's legal theory is that unequal access to denies the blind the full enjoyment of the goods and services offered at Target stores, which are places of public accomodation." . . . "The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability "in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accomodations of any place of public accomodation." The statute applies to the services of a place of public accommodation, not services in a place of public accomodation. To limit the ADA to discrimination in the provision of services occurring on the premises of a public accomidation would contradict the plain language of the statute.")
    • Target settles with blind patrons over site accessibility, CNET 8/29/2008
    • Vincent Martin v. Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), 225 F. Supp. 2d 1362, 1383 (N.D. Ga. 2002) (mass transit system website must be made accessible pursuant to ADA title II and Sec. 504).
    • Access Now, Inc. v. Southwest Airlines, Co.,
    • appealed, No. 02-16163 (11th Cir. Sept. 24, 2004) (appeal dismissed - "Unfortunately, we are unable to reach the merits of this case, however, because none of the issues on appeal are properly before us. Accordingly, we are constrained to dismiss the appeal.")
    • Brief Of The Equal Employment Advisory Council And The Chamber of Commerce Of The United States
      As Amici Curiae Supporting Defendant-Appellee And In Support of Affirmance at 23, Southwest Airlines,
      No. 02-16163-BB.
    • 227 F. Supp. 2d 1312 (S.D. Fla. 2002) (complaint dismissed);
    • Plaintiff brought suit complaining that Southwest Airlines' website, where individuals can acquire airline information, reservations, and tickets, is inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that the website failed to use alternative text tags and failed to design online forms that could be navigated without the use of a mouse. Thus, plaintiff argued, Southwest Airlines violated title III of the ADA as a place of public accommodation. The Court dismissed the case on the grounds that, in courts under 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a place of public accommodation had to be a physical place. The court however concluded with a footnote expressing disappointment over the failure of Southwest Airlines to make its services accessible.
    • News
    • Interview with Robert Gumson who brought access now lawsuit against Southwest Airlines MP3.
    • Disabilities Act doesn't cover Web MSNBC 10/23/02
    • Judge: Disabilities Act doesn't cover Web CNET 10/21/02
    • Access Now v SW Airlines Court 10/21/02
    • Man Sues Airlines For Fare Access Wired 10/15/02
    • Judge Declines to Expand ADA to Cover Web, Chicago Daily L. Bull., Vol. 148, No. 218, Nov. 6, 2002.
    • Matthew Haggman, New ADA Fight: Making Web Sites Accessible for the Blind, Legal Times, Legal Business, Cyberlaw, Vol. 25, No. 40, Oct. 14, 2002.
    • Access Now., Inc. v. Am. Airlines, Inc., No. 02-22076 (S.D. Fla., filed July 16, 2002) (stayed pending Access Now, Inc. v. Southwest Airlines Co., No. 02-16163-BB).
    • Hooks v. OKBridge, Inc. (Fed. Dist) (ADA suit against online bridge club dismissed on grounds that OKBridge is a privage club and on the grounds that a website is not a place of public accomodation) (Civ. No. 99-50891, unpublished 5th Cir. August 21, 2000) (affirmed, but on the different ground that defendant was not aware of plaintiff's disability and therefore could not discriminate).
    • National Federation of the Blind v. America Online (D. Mass. Filed Nov. 4, 1999).
    • Accessibility Agreement
    • AOL ADA Complaint 11/2/99
    • "The individual Plaintiffs and members of the organizational Plaintiffs are blind, and therefore can only independently use computers, including internet services, by concurrently running screen access software programs for the blind that convert visual information into synthesized speech or braille. However, Defendant AOL has particularly designed its AOL services so that it is incompatible with screen access software programs for the blind. Despite its self-description as "the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies, a nd electronic commerce services," AOL, in designing its AOL service, has failed to remove communications barriers presented by its designs thus denying the blind independent access to this service, in violation of Title III of the ADA, 42 USC 12181, et seq."
    • National Federation of the Blind
    • AOL Settles Accessibility Suit  Wired July 2000
    • America Online Is It Accessible Now? (May 2003)
    • AOL Report (May 2002)
    • AOL Progress Report (February 2001)
    • Blind Group's Suit Against America Online a Good Cause But Bad Idea Salt Lake Times 11/19/99
    • Lawsuit Says AOL Shuts Out the Blind NY Times 11/4/99
    • Advocates for the blind sue AOL C|NET 11/4/99
    • Barriers Online for Those With Disabilities NY Times 11/4/99
    • Blind advocacy group sues AOL USA Today 11/4/99
    • NY Attorney General Settlement with and
    • Press Release: Spitzer Agreement to Make Web Sites Accessible to the Blind and Visually Impaired (August 19, 2004)
    • NYAG Agreement to make Web Sites Accessible to the Blind, NYAG 9/7/2004


    • Nancy J. King, "Website Access for Customers with Disabilities: Can We Get There from Here?", UCLA JOLT 5/7/2004 ("The article concludes that the correct answer to the question of whether Title III should be construed to cover at least some commercial websites offering goods and services to the public is “yes”.")
    • July 10, 2003 - Application of the ADA to the Internet and the Worldwide Web (PDF) National Council on Disability
    • Leah Poynter, Rules Requiring Federal Web Sites to be Accessible to People With Disabilities Could Have Impact on the Private Sector Through the Americans with Disabilities Act, Georgia State University College of Law Fall 2002
    • Jeffrey Scott Ranen, Note, Was Blind But Now I See: The Argument for ADA Applicability to the Internet, 22 B.C. Third World L.J. 389 (2002).
    • Cassandra Burke Robertson, Providing Access to the Future: How the Americans with Disabilities Act Can Remove Barriers in Cyberspace, 79 Denv. U. L. Rev.199 (2001).
    • Adam M. Schloss, Web-Sight For Visually Disabled People: Does Title III Of The Americans With Disabilities Act
      Apply To Internet Websites
      , 35 COLUM. J.L. & SOC. PROBS. 35, 50-57 (2001).
    • Paul Taylor, The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Internet, 7 B.U. J. Sci. & Tech. L. 26 (Winter 2001).
    • Kelly E. Konkright, Comment, An Analysis of the Applicability of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to Private Internet Access Providers, 37 Idaho L. Rev. 713 (2001).
    • Justin D. Petruzzelli, Note, Adjust Your Font Size: Websites Are Public Accommodations Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 53 Rutgers L. Rev. 1063 (Summer 2001).
    • Jonathan Bick, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Internet, 10 Alb. L.J. Sci. & Tech. 205 (2000)
    • Patrick Maroney, The Wrong Tool for the Right Job: Are Commercial Websites Places of Public Accommodation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990?, 2 Vand. J. Ent. L. & Prac. 191 (2000).
    • Dana Whitehead Mckee & Deborah T. Fleischaker, ADA and the Internet: Must Websites Be Accessible, 33 Md. B.J. 34 (Nov./Dec. 2000).
    • Peter David Blanck & Leonard A. Sandler, ADA Title III and the Internet: Technology and Civil Rights, 24 Mental and Physical Disability L. Rep. 855 (2000).
    • Cynthia D. Waddell, "Electronic Curbcuts": The ADA in Cyberspace, 27 Hum. Rts. 22 (Winter 2000)
    • Cynthia D. Waddell, Applying the ADA to the Internet: A Web Accessibility Standard, ABA Annual Meeting (June 16, 1998)
    • Electronic Curbcuts: How to Build an Accessible Web Site By Leslie M. Campbell and Cynthia D. Waddell  Last Updated: June 24, 1997
    • The Americans with Disability Act: Questions and Answers from the Consumer Information Catalog.


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