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Lawsuits Related to ADA Applicability to Website and Mobile App Design are on the Rise

Image Credit:  Zilkovec/Shutterstock.com

We’re all accustomed to playing a game by a set of rules designed to establish an order of fairness. Each player follows a common set of regulations to ensure inclusion of all who share the field of participation. Being a champion in any business community mandates that the actions taken to achieve success do not come at the exclusion of any member of the consumer community. The American Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a sweeping set of rules developed and implemented to grant access and inclusion to all members of society regardless of physical and emotional abilities, and while businesses and property owners are well versed in the requirements for compliance, some recent court rulings are complicating the business community’s understanding of those requirements.

The United States (U.S.) Supreme Court’s recent denial to review a lower court case known as Domino’s Pizza v. Guillermo Robles, No. 18-1539, is once again causing many in the business community to scratch their heads as to what the rules of the game really entail. The case, Robles v. Domino’s Pizza LLC, was originally filed in the Central District of California in September 2016, and centered on the inability of individuals who were blind or had limited vision to use Domino’s website to order pizzas online with the use of screen-reading software. District Judge S. James Otero dismissed the lawsuit in March of 2017, holding that while ADA Title III applied to the internet, allowing the case to proceed in the absence of clear web accessibility regulations from the Department of Justice (DOJ) would violate Domino’s due process rights. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Otero’s ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling now clears the way for the original lawsuit to proceed.

Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is a set of standards for online and mobile content developed by technology and accessibility experts to fully address consumers with accessibility issues. This new ruling appears to extend the ADA to not only a business’s physical locations but also to business’s internet and mobile app sites. Domino’s and other business groups argue that the ADA, enacted in 1990, did not envision the internet when the law was passed. At the heart of Domino’s’ position is the difficulty for business to comply with the law because of constantly changing technology.

“Each defendant must figure out how to make every image on its website or app sufficiently accessible to the blind, how to render every video or audio file sufficiently available to the deaf, or how to provide content to those who cannot operate a computer or mobile phone,” said a Domino’s spokesperson. “We also remain steadfast in our belief in the need for federal standards for everyone to follow in making their websites and mobile apps accessible.”

Because the standards appear to be irregular, additional lawsuits similar to Guillermo Robles are likely to become more commonplace. According to UsableNet, nearly 2,300 lawsuits related to ADA applicability to website access were filed in 2018, nearly triple the number from the year before.

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) has experience implementing ADA compliance initiatives for our clients, as well as providing for the proper annual registration.  Junction offers a website technology that complies with the WCAG2.1 and EN 301549 in order to keep your website accessible at all times. Our Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning based solutions allows real-time monitoring of our clients’ websites. Don’t let Accessibility requirements restrict great creative for your website!

Call Junction today at 678-686-1125 to learn more about how our team can analyze and decipher all of your website compliance issues.