On October 7th, 2019, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled under the law that as a place of public accommodation, Domino’s website must provide tools and aids to make their website accessible to visually impaired customers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 is a civil rights law that predates the Internet. For that reason, Domino’s had asked the Supreme Court to rule that the ADA did not directly apply to websites as there are no solid web-related rules that businesses could comply with to make their online assets accessible.
The Supreme Court found that, while not a part of Domino’s physical space, the rules of the ADA still apply to the business’s website and application as they are a place of public accommodation. Therefore, Domino’s can be sued by the blind customer who brought forth these claims.
As far back as 2010, the Department of Justice stated their intentions to address the growing concerns over how the ADA affects public accommodations provided via the Internet. There have been sparse updates every few years, but until now there had been no official court decisions on the topic. Now, we finally have some movement.
What Does This Mean For Your Website?
If you aren’t already, this ruling should be a reason to start taking your website’s accessibility seriously. It can be frustrating that there are still no strict rules on how to make your site accessible to your users so that they cannot sue you.
With court cases likely to pop up on the back of this ruling over the coming years, it is safe to assume that we will begin hearing more on what is expected for businesses. For now, the safest route is to read through the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 which offers a large number of recommendations on making websites more accessible. Our recommendation is to aim for Level AA on your site which will make your site accessible to the majority of people accessing your website with a disability.
Wrapping Things Up
The Supreme Court’s ruling honestly does not change a lot. In fact, it means that the laws around website accessibility will remain the way they are now. Had Domino’s succeeded in getting this case dismissed, it would set a scary precedent that accessibility does not matter. This ruling should have a great impact on moving the topic of accessibility forward in the next few years. Don’t forget, making your website accessible should not be looked at as an inconvenience, but a way to make your website a more pleasant experience to all users, no matter how they use your site.