In 2018, website accessibility lawsuits increased by 177%. Website accessibility lawsuits can arise when people with disabilities cannot use a company’s website because it does not use current technology. Businesses are required by federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), to accommodate people with disabilities. In 2018, Domino’s Pizza argued that it did not have to update its website to work for a blind customer as digital accessibility is not specified in the ADA. Domino’s lost its case and last week the U.S. Supreme Court denied its appeal.
The decision confirms that websites and apps are within the ADA’s definition of “places of public accommodation.” Any place that opens its doors to the public must accommodate people with disabilities. Recent courts have found that a website is just another type of door to the public, and thus, it also must be accessible.
The ADA, however, lacks specifications for what makes a website accessible. Such uncertainty can lead to lawsuits, which may result in businesses reducing their online presence. Federal legislation or a Supreme Court ruling could establish clear guidelines for ADA compliance. In the meantime, employers should take reasonable steps to make their Internet websites and apps accessible—third-party service providers are available to assist.