Professor David Allen Larson, Senior Fellow in the Dispute Resolution Institute and John H. Faricy Professor in Empirical Research at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, has published a thoughtful journal article titled, “Digital Accessibility and Disability Accommodations in Online Dispute Resolution: ODR for Everyone,” Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2019. In his research paper, Professor Larson discusses the need to ensure individuals with disabilities are both considered and accommodated when implementing an online dispute resolution program.
The abstract states:
Court systems are exploring and beginning to adopt online dispute resolution (ODR) systems, and it is critical that they make digital accessibility a priority. Even though we need to pay close attention to ODR developments in court systems, we cannot overlook the fact that there are ODR providers in the private sector whose systems also must be accessible for persons with disabilities. Plaintiffs filed more ADA Title III website accessibility lawsuits in federal court for the first six months of 2018 than in all of 2017. There were at least 1053 such lawsuits in the first six months of 2018, compared to 814 in all of 2017. As websites have become more sophisticated, access to them has worsened. This article will revisit the question of what digital accessibility standards are legally required. Although the threat of legal liability for failing to satisfy well-respected privately promulgated standards is still real, making a website digitally accessible will make it easier for everyone to use and may attract new users. Websites, mobile applications, software platforms, and other technologies will be accessible when developed and designed to internationally recognized accessibility standards. A host of best practices related to business processes and training are available to ensure accessibility for ODR systems. This Article offers ODR system designers, practicing neutrals such as mediators and arbitrators, information technology professionals, private and public decisionmakers, and policymakers essential information and tools to build and maintain systems that work for everyone. It is extremely important that the ODR community focus on digital accessibility at this moment, because ODR systems are not only being implemented in the United States; they are being adopted around the world.