A web design company should be able to make its clients’ sites accessible to all internet users. As I’ve discussed in other posts, this involves the use of reflexive web design to make sure that sites display and interact properly on all devices and browsers. But it also involves making sites accessible to persons with disabilities, including blind people who user screen readers to obtain online information and engage in e-commerce.
Not only is this level of accessibility good practice for any web design company, it may soon be a legal requirement for all client sites. In 2016, a blind user filed suit against Domino’s Pizza over its website and online ordering system, which is not compatible with screen readers. The company has fought back, arguing that it would be too expensive to update its website and app for all platforms. Domino’s lawyers also maintain that the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t mandate online accessibility as it mandates the accessibility of brick-and-mortar stores.
It’s an odd decision on the company’s part, to literally make a federal case out of its efforts to shut out some users from online order. After a series of unfavorable decisions, Domino’s has appealed to the Supreme Court, though it is not yet clear whether the case will be heard. In either case, the United States is on the cusp of a firmly established precedent in this area, which will make it easier for disabled users to successfully sue companies over accessibility issues. In fact, such cases are already proliferating, with 2,200 recorded in 2018 alone.
While it’s difficult to sympathize with Domino’s over its efforts to drag out the case, it is fairly easy to understand the conundrum they face after their web design company failed to take accessibility into account when designing the site and app in the first place. Re-designing everything will certainly be costly, but it’s ultimately Domino’s mistake for not realizing that disabled users would demand access to their system, especially now that e-commerce has begun to overtake face-to-face transactions in many areas.
Now that that trend is firmly established, all other companies should take care to avoid the same mistake. If there is any chance whatsoever that visually-impaired users will make use of your website, you should direct your web design company to test it for compatibility with screen readers. And while they are at it, there may be other accessibility issues to consider, such as site interactions that required fine motor skills, or color combinations that could trigger neurological issues like migraines.
If you look for these issues early, it will be easier to have a web design company address them than to face down litigation later on. And even if you’re capable of fending off a lawsuit, would you want to join Domino’s as a company that’s taking a stand against the responsibility to provide equal access to disabled people?