Blind man sues Domino's Pizza over website accessibility

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Although Domino's likes to embrace technology for better customer experiences, the pizza chain's website recently became the subject of a lawsuit when it was found to be inaccessible for the disabled.

The case was started by a blind man named Guillermo Robles, who sued Domino's after being unable to order pizzas from the company's website and mobile app despite using screen-reading software.

Robles used the "Job Access With Speech" or JAWS, a screen-reading program available on Windows that processes graphics or embedded links on websites with alternative text (alt text). However, Robles' attorneys pointed out that Domino's website did not have this accessibility feature at the time he tried to use it.

Robles also tried the Domino's app with his iPhone's built-in VoiceOver screen-reading feature but his lawsuit says that the unlabeled buttons found in the app made it nonconforming to Apple's iOS accessibility guidelines.

His attorneys argued in light of the ADA civil rights law, particularly Title III, labeled Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities:

Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors' offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals went in favor of Robles and ruled 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."

Domino's appealed against this ruling with the Supreme Court, which denied the petition on Monday and left the lower court's decision in standing.

Domino's defended its position by stating that the ADA does not apply to online platforms that were not envisioned when the law was passed in 1990. Furthermore, it stated the "impossibility of guessing what accessibility means in the online environment" and the need for federal standards in making websites and mobile apps accessible.

The company's attorneys also noted that this case prompted several other plaintiffs that will "deluge courts within the Ninth Circuit with accessibility suits," and that in such cases "defendants settle or drop online offerings rather than shouldering heavy costs to achieve an elusive level of accessibility."

The decision was "the right call on every level," said Robles' attorney. "The blind and visually impaired must have access to websites and apps to fully and equally participate in modern society - something nobody disputes," he said.

Domino's issued a statement expressing its disappointment over the Supreme Court's decision and said that it looks forward to presenting the case at trial court.

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
I understand the ADA provisions, in fact I've had to make a number of major alterations to renovation projects to make accommodations. My question is simple .... if he were ordering these items on his phone, did he try calling them to make his order? Not that should be an excuse but it is a "reasonable accommodation". While the company should continue to upgrade their system, I think the Court might have reached a bit too far on this one. If you read the law it says reasonable accommodation not every possible accommodation.
 

Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
I understand the ADA provisions, in fact I've had to make a number of major alterations to renovation projects to make accommodations. My question is simple .... if he were ordering these items on his phone, did he try calling them to make his order? Not that should be an excuse but it is a "reasonable accommodation". While the company should continue to upgrade their system, I think the Court might have reached a bit too far on this one. If you read the law it says reasonable accommodation not every possible accommodation.
That's the problem with the world today. it isnt just tolerance of ideas, its acceptance or you're a bigot nazi. Making a profit isnt good enough, you must make maximum profit or dont bother serving the market. Serving a niche isnt good enough, it must serve ALL markets. support isnt enough, you must dedicate your life to "X".

And reasonable accomedations are not enough, you must bend down to every need or get sued into the ground. Having set up JAWS for people before, I have no freaking clue why you would want to order through a website with it instead of just calling the chain and putting an order in instead.

Everything has to be one extreme or the other, the concept of middle ground has been completely lost.

Now, it sounds like the site wasnt working at all, E.G. he couldnt read menus or any text off the site, which is a failure on domino's part, in which case the man has an argument, especially as it didnt work through iphone accessibility either, so it cant be a case of outdates JAWS software alone. I feel bad for the guy, but it is so hard to tell these days whether somethign is a legitimate case or another case of Clownworld.
 

lumbeeman

TS Enthusiast
Everything has to be one extreme or the other, the concept of middle ground has been completely lost.
I agree with this somewhat, but it is more like common sense, logical and critical thinking is rare. The extremes have always been there in some shape or form, technology has just made it that we see it and hear about it all the time.
 

Scshadow

TS Evangelist
Honestly, I don't ever want to start a successful business. You can't just make a product and sell it. You just constantly have to duck and weave and swerve around all the legal nuances. It should be easy. Dominoes makes pizza. You eat pizza. If you don't like the pizza or the process of ordering the pizza, go to a different restaurant. Bad restaurants don't get repeat business. Bad restaurants go out of business. New restaurants pop up in its place. If another restaurant is more accessible, then promote that restaurant. Make it worth everyone's time to be more accessible. Don't open some crybaby lawsuit.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
This seems over kill and another attempt for money. Unless, he already made attempts to contact Domino's and informed them that their stuff was not screen reader friendly.

Honestly though, is he even going to order from Domino's if he wins in court? *insert eye roll here*
I can tell you from experience, making a website friendly for the blind is not something high on the priority list for many businesses. This could just be a case of see an opportunity, sue.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Honestly, I don't ever want to start a successful business. You can't just make a product and sell it. You just constantly have to duck and weave and swerve around all the legal nuances. It should be easy. Dominoes makes pizza. You eat pizza. If you don't like the pizza or the process of ordering the pizza, go to a different restaurant. Bad restaurants don't get repeat business. Bad restaurants go out of business. New restaurants pop up in its place. If another restaurant is more accessible, then promote that restaurant. Make it worth everyone's time to be more accessible. Don't open some crybaby lawsuit.
I have not had Dominoes in years - probably something like 30 or more years; however, what I had back then, IMO, could hardly be called pizza. It was more like cardboard with tomato sauce and fake cheese. Having it once, I never went back. Once was too much, IMO.

Why anyone would want to sue, other than to line their pockets, for Domino's pizza is a complete mystery to me.
 

Raytrace3D

TS Addict
I can tell you from experience, making a website friendly for the blind is not something high on the priority list for many businesses. This could just be a case of see an opportunity, sue.
Exactly. I think we should check every government website, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to ensure they are compliant. If they're not, we should have no problem suing them and make some quick cash. :D
 

Scshadow

TS Evangelist
I have not had Dominoes in years - probably something like 30 or more years; however, what I had back then, IMO, could hardly be called pizza. It was more like cardboard with tomato sauce and fake cheese. Having it once, I never went back. Once was too much, IMO.

Why anyone would want to sue, other than to line their pockets, for Domino's pizza is a complete mystery to me.
Well they did change the crust like 10-15 years ago. I didn't have Dominoes much as a kid and when I became an adult, they had a huge ad campaign about changing their crust. I've never had a problem with their pizza, but I also don't have the most sophisticated of tastes. Like as long as its not tombstone or tostinos bad, I'll eat it.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
The web designer has a real nightmare and Labyrinth to run for such considerations.

Want to get sick in one link ... read the W3C standard Accessibility

If you can't deal with raw HTML, then don't even consider becoming a web designer.

 

Godel

TS Addict
Dominos changed their recipe several years ago, and according to reports it's now pretty decent for a large chain. I've never tried it either before or after the change.
 

Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
Honestly, I don't ever want to start a successful business. You can't just make a product and sell it. You just constantly have to duck and weave and swerve around all the legal nuances. It should be easy. Dominoes makes pizza. You eat pizza. If you don't like the pizza or the process of ordering the pizza, go to a different restaurant. Bad restaurants don't get repeat business. Bad restaurants go out of business. New restaurants pop up in its place. If another restaurant is more accessible, then promote that restaurant. Make it worth everyone's time to be more accessible. Don't open some crybaby lawsuit.
Devils advocate. Lets say no grocery chain is wheelchair accessible in your city. Is someone with a wheelchair supposed to go several hours out of their way just to buy food? If every pizza chain doesnt allow for JAWS to work, are blind people supposed to just not order pizza?

The ADA exists for a reason. It sucks that some people will abuse it for their own gain, but there is a reason that these accomidations are required.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Guru
If there was no other way to order pizza, then *maybe* he would have a case. The company does provide service for the blind via phone calls I believe. He could also have been driven to the store and guided in for an order, as ya know, in the "olden days"...

Does this mean every single website in existence has to provide access for the blind or get sued into bankruptcy? This sounds like a cash grab.
 

Cubi Dorf

TS Booster
Domino should just fix their site. I think lawsuit is justify if they refuse to fix their site and are break law. government standards should being more clear published to help business be sure they are compliance and penalty should be published. there is no reason to exclude blind people. I don’t know how much it costing them to fix site, but less than lawsuits I an think. I don’t know how government working there, but the lawsuit should end if they fix the site and app. hopefully everyone can be happy with outcome.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
How do I make my site ADA accessible?

6 Tips to Make Your Website ADA Compliant

Review the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). ...
Conduct an audit of your site using a WAVE Web Accessibility Tool. ...
Make sure your images have descriptive alt tags. ...
Review your website's styles and elements, such as headings, buttons and links. ...
Utilize web writing best practices when developing content.