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Sued for Being Inaccessible

awwsmm profile image Andrew (he/him) ・1 min read

Haven't thought about accessibility lately? You should. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal of a lower court ruling by Dominos Pizza, which ruled their website inaccessible.

The U.S. 9th Circuit court rules that

"...the Americans With Disabilities Act protects access not just to restaurants and stores but also to the websites and apps of those businesses."

If you're building a site for an organisation that has to abide by the Americans With Disabilities Act, be careful! Do your research and make the site accessible -- not just to be inclusive and because it's the morally right thing to do -- but because you might get sued.


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Why not do it because it's inclusive and the right thing to do?


"Not just because", means that if you don't follow it you might be killed. Or sued. 💝


It's the ordering of the statements that matters. The way it's worded makes it sound as if being inclusive and doing the right thing are less important than making sure you don't get sued.

I don't think he meant it so hard, I'd say he said it out of pure soul and heart without such intention.


Your wording is backwards. People should make sites accessible not just because they might get sued, but because being inclusive is the right thing to do.


A good website is accessible because it is symanticly correct. Switch on your screen reader and attempt to test your journeys from start to finish, it's honestly not a scary task and you will be a better keyboard user as a reward, win win.


There are also a lot of design concepts that are important for accessibility. Color contrasts, number of actions available to users, and density and complexity of text are some of them.


Sorry I was being very high level, of course AA or AAA, animation and so much more but start with symanticly correct markup


what are ADA requirements of "accessible" website? Does it have specific definition?


I don't know if the ADA specifically calls out websites and guidelines for them.

However, the specific cases it covers that matter here are mobility impairments, blindness, and deafness (most of the rest of the disabilities it covers would not realistically impact a user's ability to use a website in a way that the site could be designed to mitigate). So provided the website can be used without needing a pointing device, works correctly with a screen reader, is properly readable, and doesn't rely on sounds as indicators in place of other indicators, you should be fine. Dominos pretty blatantly fails the first two parts (keyboard browsing and screen reader support) last I checked.


The ADA doesn't call out any specific requirements regarding websites. In fact, it doesn't mention websites at all. The road to getting websites considered as covered by the ADA has been rough and complicated, and courts disagree a lot. I wrote a post about it, if you're interested.

While there haven't been any legally enshrined standards or requirements, courts have recommended following WCAG 2.0 AA standards as a part of reparations, so that's the closest thing we've got at the moment.

Your post looks fantastic, Ben. I'll have a read.


There are definitely laws about it. Will try to find them.


Here's a post: section508.gov/blog/do-section-508.... Federal, state, and local government sites must be accessible. (These are US laws, btw.)


The article is a little light on details. I'm curious whether this rule will potentially apply to all websites, or rather to all websites beyond a certain size.


"The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations."
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So I don't think it applies to anyone's personal website.