Should the ADA Apply to Websites?
Should the Americans with Disability Act apply to the web?
by SCOTUS WATCH | 10.21.19
What’s the story?
- In declining to hear a case last week, the Supreme Court has left intact a lower ruling that the Americans with Disabilities Act does, in fact, apply to websites.
- The section of the ADA in question is Title III, which says that you can’t discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability regarding
“the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation."
Domino’s v. Robles
- SCOTUS declined to hear the case of Guillermo Robles, a blind California resident who tried to place an order through Domino’s mobile app.
- Robles uses screen readers to access the internet, but the pizza chain’s app and website weren’t compliant.
- Robles eventually sued Domino’s, arguing the inaccessibility of its sites violated his rights under the ADA.
What did the lower courts rule?
- The district court where Robles filed his case dismissed his suit, so he appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
- "The 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," the court wrote. "This nexus between Domino's website and app and physical restaurants—which Domino's does not contest—is critical to our analysis."
“Domino's website and app facilitate access to the goods and services of a place of public accommodation—Domino's physical restaurants. They are two of the primary (and heavily advertised) means of ordering Domino's products to be picked up at or delivered from Domino's restaurants. We agree with the district court in this case—and the many other district courts that have confronted this issue in similar contexts—that the ADA applies to Domino's website and app, which connect customers to the goods and services of Domino's physical restaurants.
- Domino’s appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, asking SCOTUS to resolve the question:
“[Does] Title III of the ADA require a website or mobile phone application that offers goods or services to the public to satisfy discrete accessibility requirements with respect to individuals with disabilities?”
- The chain was joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and business groups warning of a “a tsunami of litigation” and arguing that judges would see the appeals court’s decision as “imposing a nationwide website-accessibility mandate.”
- Following the ruling, Domino’s released a statement:
“We look forward to presenting our case at the trial court. 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.”
- Mark Whitley, president of Easterseals Southern California, praised SCOTUS for “supporting the values ... the ADA was built upon.”
What do you think?
Should the ADA apply to websites? Or does that invite a “tsunami of litigation”? Take action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.
(And, in case you were wondering, Yes, Countable is indeed ADA compliant.)