Back in 2016, Guillermo Robles, who is blind, tried to order a custom pizza through Domino’s website using screen-reading software. The website didn’t recognize the software. So he sued Domino’s for discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The case made its way to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in January that Domino’s and other businesses with physical locations must make their websites accessible. Domino’s appealed to the Supreme Court, which announced yesterday that it would not be hearing the case, which means Robles’s lawsuit will go to trial.
The ADA was passed in 1990, before the rise of the internet, so it makes no specific provisions for websites, and courts are still divided about whether it should. According to CNET, most websites still aren’t coded to be accessible to people with disabilities. The Robles case could set a precedent for how websites have to accommodate people who are blind or visually impaired. Bloomberg Law reports that 600 website accessibility complaints have been filed under the ADA this year.
USA Today reports that Domino’s argued that the appeals court’s decision “stretched the definition too far by deciding that websites and mobile applications must be judged as public accommodations rather than just considered as one of many ways in which a consumer might access a retailer’s offerings.” Meaning that Robles could have visited one of Domino’s retail locations or ordered by phone.
But if you have access to the internet now, it’s so much easier to order through a website or an app instead of calling and hoping someone will pick up the phone and understand what you’re trying to tell them or going there in person and waiting for your food. If the technology is available, why shouldn’t everyone have that convenience?