Domino’s Pizza has been sued by a blind man who couldn’t order a custom pizza from the Domino’s website. Domino’s has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case and deliver a decision.
First, some background.
I have friends who have met through online dating apps. Over coffee last week, another friend was raving over the convenience of using an app to order groceries, then having them delivered to her car. On election night, I can sign in and watch the vote tabulations on our county’s election web page. And the last – who knows how many – pizzas I’ve ordered came through Domino’s online app (thin crust, pepperoni and banana peppers).
The point is that these types of online spaces have changed almost every aspect of our lives…
…all within the past 20 years or so….
…all happening AFTER that day in 1990 when President George Herbert Walker Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In short, the online world that now influences a HUGE part of our lives, barely even existed in 1990, and its degree of impact wasn’t even contemplated when the ADA came to life.
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The law that was designed to assure equal access to public accommodations for those with disabilities, never contemplated the conveniences and access created by online spaces.
Many persons with disabilities are effectively shut out of many online spaces because the websites or apps that allow access are not designed with appropriate accommodations for disabled persons.
It’s not a new issue – in 1998 Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. But as the impact of the online world grows greater in our lives, the issue of online access for the disabled is growing dramatically in the courts.
According to Domino’s lawyers in 2018, plaintiffs filed over 2,250 federal lawsuits claiming ADA violations alleging website inaccessibility (three times the number of suits that had been filed in 2017).
The issue certainly seems ripe for the Supreme Court to decide. The Circuit court decisions are split and range from finding that the ADA requires compliance to finding that the ADA only applies to physical places of business, not those on the internet.
So, while we wait to see if the Supreme Court takes the case, and if they do where the case will go, litigation will continue and more and more companies will be having their websites challenged as inaccessible and in violation of the ADA. Companies with government contracts face scrutiny of website accessibility under Section 508c of the Rehabilitation Act.
Regardless of the outcome, the right thing to do is to make sure that your website is compliant. Nobody wants to deprive potential customers of access to their business. Oftentimes, simple changes can be made to improve access. Those planning new apps and redesigned web pages should look at those events as opportunities to bring their online space into compliance.
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At PS Solutions, our Onshore America development team can access your site and let you know where you stand on compliance, as well as what can and should be done to allow everyone access to your online space.
Keep an eye out, no matter what happens with Domino’s litigation, a lot of change is likely to be coming in the online marketplace.
Wayne Hippo is an owner and Managing Partner of PS Solutions, a software development and consulting firm with offices in Altoona, PA, Pittsburgh, PA and Wilmington, NC. You can reach Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org