Important legal alert: Website accessibility for Illinois brokerage companies

Important legal alert: Website accessibility for Illinois brokerage companies


Betsy UrbanceElizabeth A. (Betsy) Urbance
General Counsel and Vice President of Legal Services

Recently, it has come to Illinois REALTORS®’ attention that several of its members received letters from an attorney by the name J. Kevin Benjamin of the Benjamin Brand LLP law firm suggesting that the recipient’s website is not ADA compliant and thus violates the Fair Housing Act (we don’t believe the FHA applies) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) arguing that websites are a place of public accommodation. Courts are divided on whether a website is a place of public accommodation.

Nevertheless, this letter purports to represent a not-for-profit company standing up for people with sight issues. It suggests that the recipient’s website be brought into compliance with website compatibility guidelines within 14 days. Illinois REALTORS® does support the concept of website accessibility for all and has many resources to assist you in your efforts to make an accessible website.

However, if you have received a letter or receive one in the future, we suggest the following actions:

  • Contact your company attorney and share a copy of this letter with your attorney.
  • Notify your E&O insurance carrier who might also offer some guidance in this situation and provide you with additional advice and coverage.
  • Contact your web services provider who should be conversant in this subject and help you make your site more accessible.
  • Go to these Illinois REALTORS® resources on web accessibility.
  • Go to the following links from NAR to educate yourself on website accessibility and to consider adopting your web accessibility policy:
  • Learn more with the Web Accessibilty Initiative’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview.

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