Yesterday, the ninth circuit court of appeals gave a big win for web accessibility in a case against Domino’s Pizza.
In 2016, a blind man filed a federal lawsuit against Domino’s stating that it wasn’t compatible with standard screen reading software which is designed to vocalize text and visual information. This did not allow him to use the pizza builder feature to personalize his order. Per his claim, Domino’s violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and should make its online presence compatible with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
A blog post published by the National Retail Federation highlights that such lawsuits are on the rise, with 1,053 filed in the first half of last year compared to 814 in all of 2017. All of them voiced how there is a lack of clarity in how the ADA applies to the modern internet.
Earlier, a lower court ruled in favor of Domino’s and tossed the case out of court. However, the court of appeals court reversed the ruling saying that the ADA covers websites and mobile applications and so the case is relevant.
Domino’s argued that there was an absence of regulations specifically requiring web accessibility or referencing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
However the appellate judges explained the case was not about whether Domino’s did not comply with WCAG “While we understand why Domino’s wants DOJ to issue specific guidelines for website and app accessibility, the Constitution only requires that Domino’s receive fair notice of its legal duties, not a blueprint for compliance with its statutory obligations,” U.S. Circuit Judges John B. Owens wrote in a 25-page opinion.
The judges’ panel said the case was relevant and send it back to the district court. They will talk about whether the Domino’s website and app comply with the ADA mandate to “provide the blind with effective communication and full and equal enjoyment of its products and services.”
A Twitter thread by Jared Spool, applauded the court’s actions to apply web accessibility to ADA penalties and talked about the long and short term implications of this news.
- The first will likely come when insurance companies raise rates for any company that doesn’t meet WCAG compliance. This will create a bigger market for compliance certification firms.
- Insurance companies will demand certification sign-off to give preferred premiums. This will likely push companies to require WCAG understanding from the designers they hire.
- In the short term, we’ll likely see a higher demand for UX professionals with specialized knowledge in accessibility. In the long term, this knowledge will be required for all UX professionals. The demand for specialists will likely decrease as it becomes common practice.
- Also, toolkits, frameworks, and other standard platforms will build accessibility in. This will also reduce the demand for specialists, as it will become more difficult to build things that aren’t accessible. Good, accessible design will become the path of least resistance.
You may go through the full appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.