Does my website legally need to be accessible to people with disabilities?

Imagine having a great website that’s working well for you. Most customers use the site easily, you get tons of sales through it, and then one day you get sued because of it. What’s more, you lose.

In a recent case, Domino’s was sued for having an inaccessible website for the blind. It was ruled that “alleged inaccessibility of Domino’s website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises—which are places of public accommodation.”1 Domino’s took the case to the Supreme Court who declined the case, which leaves the lower court’s decision intact. For many businesses, this case is a cause for concern as only places of “public accommodation” were required to have accessible websites, but according to this ruling, franchises may be part of that definition.

What is website accessibility?

If you’ve ever seen a wheelchair ramp next to a staircase, you’ve already gotten a taste of what accessibility looks like. Web accessibility is like the wheelchair ramps of the internet. Web accessibility includes ways to navigate and experience web content for those who are hard of hearing, have visual impairments, or other various disabilities. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Ensuring websites are optimized for screen readers
  • Ensuring website functionality is entirely operable through a keyboard
  • Ensuring time-based media like videos have appropriate captions and audio descriptions when applicable

We’ve dug into web accessibility standards in the past, and many of them have remained consistent. What has changed are the ways the laws around them are being interpreted.

How have the laws changed?

Website accessibility laws are based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires public accommodation to be accessible, and websites are being ruled as extensions of public accommodations. There haven’t been a lot of cases clarifying these laws, but the recent case with Dominos points towards more businesses needing compliant websites.

How do you know if you’re compliant?

Thankfully, many website accessibility standards are already best practices, but not all of them. Is your website compliant? In all likelihood, you don’t know. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We can’t give you legal advice, but we can audit your website to see if it meets accessibility standards. If you’d like to know if your site is up to snuff, contact us today and we’ll audit your site for you!