Is Your Business’ Website in Violation of the ADA?
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities or accommodations of any place of public enjoyment by any person who owns or operates a place of public accommodation.
Does this apply to websites?
As websites have increasingly become a pivotal part of many business models, how websites are treated in the eyes of the ADA has become a topic of concern. Courts across the country have found that business websites should be treated as an extension of the business and is therefore required to have equal access, as does their physical locations. In the digital realm, that means that businesses must aim to offer technical features that would allow their websites to be easier to navigate for someone who is blind or deaf or may experience some other type of challenge.
How to take action to ensure ADA Compliance
Specifically, business owners must remove access barriers that would keep individuals with disabilities from accessing their good or services. This would include providing closed captioning for all video content, providing detailed labels and tags to all images, clearly labeling all pages and sections, and making sure the site is compatible with accessibility aid technology.
Domino’s Pizza v. Guillermo Robles
One of the most notable cases on this issue was filed in Los Angeles in 2016 against Domino’s Pizza. Plaintiff in this case was hard of sight and as therefore unable to use Dominos’ online ordering platform. Plaintiff claimed that he was unable to order a pizza online because the website and mobile application lacks accessibility features to allow him to use it. This case was taken to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled that the ADA protects access not only to physical restaurants, but also to the websites and mobile applications operated by those businesses. Domino’s appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court denied the petition.
While Domino’s, and many others, argue that the ADA as it stands now does not apply to online platforms, considering the law was passing 1990—long before the internet become so integrated into everyday life. However, with thousands of suits being filed across the U.S., more and more courts are falling in line with the 9th Circuit and finding that access to websites are protected under the ADA.
If you own a business with a website, be sure to do everything you can to keep your website compliant.