RISE IN ADA ACTIONS RE WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY

The Supreme Court has denied a petition from Domino’s Pizza Inc. following a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of a blind man named Guillermo Robles who sued the chain when he was unable to order pizza off the Domino’s website or mobile app even with screen reading technology.  The Supreme Court decision will leave the original ruling in place, which maintained that the company must make its website and mobile app accessible under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Ninth Circuit has concluded that a website is a "public accommodation" if there is a sufficient "nexus" between the service offered through the website and a brick and mortar location (e.g., ordering a pizza through Domino's website).  In short, if your business posts online menus, accepts orders, permits customer reviews or testimonials, takes reservations, provides addresses and directions to brick and mortar locations, accepts job applications, includes answers to frequently asked questions, and has email or chat features, you should take necessary steps to ensure these aspects are accessible to those with disabilities.

There are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) which provide businesses and web designers with standards for making web content more accessible.  Courts have relied on these guidelines and held that, among other things, an employer's website, as well as third-party vendors who interact with the employer’s website, must comply with the criteria set out in WCAG 2.0.  The DOJ has made it increasingly clear that it considers a website "accessible" if it complies with the standards of WCAG 2.0, Levels A and AA.  The DOJ has used the WCAG as criteria for consent decrees and lawsuits.

The following provides guidance for website accessibility under the ADA:  https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap5toolkit.htm

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