Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Domino's Pizza in a case involving how accessible its website is to people with disabilities.
That left in place an appeals court ruling that held that the Domino's website was subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that requires places of public accommodation to make accommodations for people with disabilities. The appeals court said Domino's must comply even without "a blueprint for compliance with its statutory obligations."
Dealers, lawyers and compliance experts I interviewed for a story on the Retail Technology page in the Nov. 11 print issue of Automotive News noted that the lack of specific federal regulations governing how a website complies with the ADA has led to uncertainty over next steps. Dealerships are among businesses being sued because of the issue.
Accessible websites generally follow a set of industry standards, though they're not legally binding. Even so, the standards are well-established guidance for businesses looking to improve online accessibility, Chris Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, told me.
In late 2017, the Trump administration withdrew a proposed rules process started under President Barack Obama. The U.S. Department of Justice said last year that the absence of federal digital regulations gives places of public accommodation flexibility in how they comply.
Without clear regulations, a dealer's compliance strategy likely "depends on what types of customers you reasonably can foresee and what types of technologies can be compatible with assistive techniques for people with disabilities," said Randy Henrick, a dealership compliance expert.
Jared Allen, spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said it was working to educate members.
"Unfortunately, legal uncertainty has historically surrounded this issue, which is why NADA continues to urge the Department of Justice to provide the regulated community with additional guidance for making public-facing commercial websites compliant with the ADA," Allen told Automotive News.