What the Domino’s Case Means for Website Accessibility

Dan Cagen Dan Cagen
minute read
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Ask the right accessibility questions or find yourself in court

Are you 100% sure your website is fully accessible to people with disabilities? It’s time to double-check. Because if it’s not, you could be heading to court.

On Oct. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a blind man’s accessibility lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza to proceed. Domino’s was appealing a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that its website and app did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires all companies to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

The Supreme Court declined to hear Domino’s petition of the ruling, and Domino’s now must defend itself in a potentially expensive lawsuit. The case revolves around a blind man, Guillermo Robles, who claims he couldn’t order a pizza online, and that Domino’s violated ADA rules because his screen-reading software could not read the company’s website or mobile app.

Lawsuits are on the rise

The Supreme Court’s deferral to the 9th Circuit Court is a big victory for disability advocates. It suggests that online businesses are subject to disability lawsuits if their ordering technology is not accessible to people with disabilities. This affects a wide range of businesses, including restaurants, retailers and movie theaters (to name just a few).

With no hard website accessibility laws for websites to follow, businesses continue to struggle with the gray areas of accessibility.

“This is a hot new topic that will be landing on boardroom tables and agendas over the weeks and months that follow,” Aaron Allen, founder and chief strategist of restaurant consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates, told CNBC about the financial implications of the case for the industry.

Disability lawsuits have been on the rise. There were more than 2,000 federal website accessibility lawsuits in 2018, according to ADA Title III. That’s three times more than 2017, and experts expect that number to continue to rise. The Domino’s case will only fan the flames and encourage disability advocates to file lawsuits – potentially increasing the likelihood of decisions against businesses.

46% of QA professionals don't know if their websites are accessible.

What’s the scary part for businesses?

Many companies are not accessible and don’t even realize it. According to the Applause Community of QA Professionals, 46% of QA professionals don’t know if their websites are accessible. For many product and development teams, digital accessibility is neither a core competency nor a priority – and getting up to speed is a barrier.

Domino’s is an e-commerce leader in the restaurant industry, and even they must now defend themselves in court. That should set off alarm bells for everyone. So ask yourself, can you definitively say yes to these questions?

  • Does your site work with the most common screen readers?
  • Can you navigate the site without a mouse?
  • Do all images have a caption?
  • Does your site pass accessibility guidelines such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG), ADA, and international specifications?

You can get answers to these questions and many others with proactive digital accessibility testing. Expert-led accessibility assessments and community-driven testing identify weaknesses in your digital experience, deliver a roadmap to remediate issues, and embrace accessible design for the future.

If you don’t test for accessibility now, you could find yourself in court before you know it.

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