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Domino’s Would Rather Go to the Supreme Court Than Make Its Website Accessible to the Blind

Rather than developing technology to support users with disabilities, the pizza chain is taking its fight to the top

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A mid-2000s Domino’s sign on a blue curved awning on a white building with blue framed windows. In the foreground there’s a Domino’s delivery car with a triangular Domino’s sign on top. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Domino’s is all about creating new technology to make ordering pizza more convenient for customers, from Slack apps to Facebook Messenger bots, but the chain is willing to go to the Supreme Court to fight a ruling requiring the company to make its website accessible to the blind.

Guillermo Robles, a California resident who is blind, filed a lawsuit against Domino’s in 2016 after he tried and failed on two occasions to order a custom pizza from the company’s website and mobile app. Robles and his attorneys argued that federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protections apply to online platforms for brick-and-mortar businesses. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed and in January ruled in favor of Robles.

However, rather than developing ways to adapt its technology to support users with disabilities, Domino’s, with support from national business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Restaurant Law Center, is petitioning the U.S.’s top court to hear the case, CNBC reports. If taken up by the court, the case could represent a major turning point in how companies accommodate people with disabilities on the internet.

In recent years there’s been an uptick in lawsuits against companies for failing to build accessible websites, according to the Goods. As the internet has grown increasingly important for day-to-day life, people with disabilities are pushing for stricter rules on how websites are built. Accessible websites, for example, embed code into images and features of the site to make them more descriptive, understandable, and useful to people using screen readers. Yet, many websites from presidential campaign pages to are still not built with a full spectrum of users in mind.

The ADA requires businesses to make necessary accommodations for people with disabilities, but because it was written in 1990 during the internet’s infancy the rules are murky on how the law applies online.

Petitioners representing the Domino’s case contend that recent rulings against the chain and other similar court decisions would turn the current increase in similar online accessibility lawsuits from a flood “into a tsunami.” Business groups argue that the government hasn’t established rules for how to make websites compliant with ADA. Organizations representing people with disabilities say there are clear international standards for complying and argue that by fighting the push to make accessible websites, businesses are in fact losing out on potential customers.

The Supreme Court will decide in the fall whether or not to hear the case.

A Blind Man Couldn’t Order Pizza From Domino’s. The Company Wants the Supreme Court to Say Websites Don’t Have to be Accessible [CNBC]
Domino’s Supreme Court Petition [Official]
Domino’s App, Website Must Be Accessible to the Blind, Court Rules [Arizona Republic]
Websites Need to Be More Accessible For Disabled People [Vox]