ADA Compliance in the 21st Century: Four Companies Settle Suits

Recently, McDonald’s, Kmart, Grubhub and Empire Today settled lawsuits brought against them for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. A similar suit against Ace Hardware remains. The claims were brought in federal court in Illinois, and allege that the companies’ websites and apps are not accessible to the blind. The plaintiffs were represented by The Dann Law Firm and were dismissed between October 11th and October 30th.

The Blind are Active Smartphone Users through Accessibility Features

Smartphones have become nearly ubiquitous in today’s office environment. Considering most people engage visually with their smartphone, many people are surprised to learn that the blind are also active smartphone users through accessibility technology. For instance, blind iPhone users use VoiceOver, which reads out the text on apps and websites. However, some companies have not kept pace, as the lawsuit contends.

Common examples of accommodations include wheelchair ramps and braille signs. However, the current suits contend that in order for the disabled to engage in today’s tech-heavy world, accommodations should be made for websites and apps as well. This includes apps like Grubhub, which delivers food to customers in their homes. This could be a helpful tool for a disabled person.

What’s Required from Developers

If you are a mobile app developer, your application should adhere to WCAG 2.0 which is a reference manual for accessibility standards. The manual focuses on perception, operability, understandability, and robustness. It requires things accommodations like text alternatives for non-text content, captions, keyboards, and intuitiveness for users. A WCAG 2.0 quick summary is available here.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability. It requires that reasonable accommodations be made for the physically impaired, including those who are deaf or blind. Under the law, employers are required to provide accommodations to disabled workers and public accommodations must be similarly accessible. The act was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990 and was later amendments signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008.

The ADA is an important tool in helping the country remain accessible to the disabled. When an employer or public accommodation fails to accommodate a disabled person, that person may bring suit to correct the problem and ensure compliance. As one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Rusty Payton, said, “The goal of all of these clients is first, accessibility.”


If you experience unreasonable inconvenience at your place of employment or a public accommodation, contact us today for a free case evaluation. Another resource for the disabled in learning about workplace accommodations is the Job Accommodation Network. A list of ADA guidelines is available here.