The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Domino’s over website accessibility rights today, upholding a decision by a lower court that websites are required to have accessibility options for the vision and hearing impaired.
This is a win for disability advocates, who argued in court that without accessibility options, the economy is missing a substantial portion of revenue when they shut out groups of disabled people.
Domino’s tried to appeal the lower court’s decision by petitioning the Supreme Court for an appeal, but that petition was rejected.
Guillermo Robles originally sued the pizza chain after trying to order a pizza on their website and realizing there were no options for the visually impaired. Unable to place an order on their website or mobile app, despite using screen-reading software, Robles took legal action against Domino’s. The case was originally brought up in 2016, saying that Domino’s inaccessibility was discriminatory. Robles’ lawyer argued that the website was in breach of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the “alleged inaccessibility of Domino’s website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises—which are places of public accommodation.”
Because the Supreme Court refused Domino’s petition, the company will now have to fight Robles in court.
According to the accessible technology firm UsableNet, more than 2,200 of accessibility rights cases have been filed in lower court in the past year alone. This is the first time in history so many accessibility cases have been presented against companies and corporations.
Joe Manning, Robles attorney, stated that the court made the right decision. He also said, “the blind and visually impaired must have access to websites and apps to fully and equally participate in modern society – something nobody disputes. This outcome furthers that critical objective for them and is a credit to our society.”
Robles, like many others with impairments, relies on technology, like Apple’s screen-reading software to help him with navigating the internet. Domino’s website and mobile app lacked the proper labeling for this accessibility program to be able to function. Most of this software relies on keywords, images, and other visual aids within a website to accurately describe the webpage. Domino’s website was not created with these technologies in mind.
Domino’s also released a statement this morning that stated their disappointment over the Supreme Court’s decision. The company said, “we look forward to presenting our case at the trial court. We also remain steadfast in our belief in the need for federal standards for everyone to follow in making their websites and mobile apps accessible.”
Currently, this decision means that Domino’s will have to revise its digital operations to be accessible to the hearing and visually impaired, at least until further court rulings. This may change the way many businesses handle their operations, forcing companies to comply with accessibility laws throughout the country. According to DailyMail, “both the and UK law require that companies do not deny individuals with disabilities access to their goods and services unless the effort involved places them under an ‘undue burden'”.
Robles’ original court case was dismissed in 2017, but after gaining momentum during the appeal, the court eventually decided in his favor.