Thursday, October 02, 2008

Amendments to Americans with Disabilities Act Broaden Coverage, Portend More Employment Litigation

Last week, President Bush signed into law amendments to the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Effective January 1, 2009, these changes broaden the definition of "disability", and large employers should expect an increase in employee disability claims.

ADA and Section 508 Compliance for Web Sites

For the most part, event planners outside of the Federal government ignore ADA compliance for their Web sites and online registration forms. Looking at the history of ADA applicability to the Web, a trend is becoming clear:

1. Originally, only public Web sites of U.S. Federal Government agencies had to comply with ADA Web guidelines.
2. Later, enforcement extended to state and local government Web sites if those agencies accepted federal funds (as most do)
3. Recently, Target v. National Federation of the Blind set a precedent that commercial Web sites must be ADA compliant if the site is accessible to the public
4. Now, these new ADA amendments broaden the definition of disability in the employee-employer relationship. This makes me think that soon employee-only Web sites (such as Intranets and employee event registration forms) may soon fall under ADA regulation.

What to do as a Meeting Planner?

I don’t hear a lot about ADA compliance in the meetings industry press or trade shows, but I think now is the time for organizations to create long-term plans for all of their Web sites to become compliant with the international W3C Web Content Accesibility Guidelines (which include the U.S. ADA and Section 508 guidelines).

I've previously described our strategy at Certain for doing this.