On October 7th, the U.S. Supreme Court greenlighted a case that calls into question the extent to which companies are responsible for making their websites and apps accessible to the blind and visually impaired. At the center of the legal battle is Domino’s Pizza Inc. which came under scrutiny for non-compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act in a 2016 suit and 2019 appeal in the 9th Circuit Court. Domino’s appealed to the Supreme Court, asking them to rule on the legality of ADA compliance as it relates to websites and apps. The Court denied the petition, effectively allowing individuals and action groups to file claims against companies with inaccessible websites.
Domino’s is not alone. In 2018, 2,250 federal lawsuits asserting ADA non-compliance based on website inaccessibility were filed. Across all sectors, website accessibility is a growing concern for companies that can face possible legal action despite a lack of national accessibility standards for websites. Since it was written before the advent of web-based services, the ADA lacks guidance for company websites and apps. When it comes to applying the ADA, courts differ on whether cases against companies’ sites are admissible in court. The Supreme Court’s October 7th ruling not to hear Domino’s case further complicates the matter by deferring any federal consensus delineating the responsibilities of companies when it comes to the accessibility of their websites and apps.
What the Court’s ruling means for companies nationwide is that they will have to funnel greater resources into monitoring ADA compliance cases and updating their web presence to conform to amorphous standards. Various companies offer platforms to build accessible sites or audit sites against ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These third-party advisors have proven increasingly useful as the legal landscape of internet accessibility compliance changes. As Domino’s has shown, remaining up to date on online accessibility standards is an increasing necessity in order to avoid legal consequences.