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It started with an offhand comment from a developer I retained for a new website. He asked, “Do you want the website to be ADA compliant?”

ADA is the acronym for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by George H.W. Bush. Among other things, it provides that people with disabilities can purchase goods and services in the same manner as everyone else.

I was aware of the ADA, but didn’t believe it applied to smaller employers and certainly not to the websites of my clients.

I decided to investigate further. What I found surprised me.

Does your website need to be ADA compliant?

I sought input from three attorneys with extensive ADA expertise.

According to David Reischer, an employment attorney and CEO of Legaladvice.com, Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in a "public accommodation." The legal issue is whether your website is considered a “public accommodation.”

Reischer says the focus of the ADA was mostly on physical barriers to businesses, but many recent lawsuits allege that any private company, which would include any financial advisor websites, would also qualify as places of public accommodation. These lawsuits allege that any website with access barriers have the effect of denying a person with the right of equal access and the number of people in an advisory firm would be irrelevant to their claims.

The law on this issue is unsettled. Some courts have held “public accommodations” are limited to physical spaces. Others disagree.