Yesterday, I received an email from our friend Scott (sklawlor), asking if I would use my voice, small though it is, to bring something to the attention of the public, or at least those who read my blog. After researching the issue, I agreed.
At issue is whether online retailers have an obligation, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities, such as blindness. From an article in The Verge:
Domino’s, the leading US pizza chain that pinned its remarkable turnaround nearly a decade ago on an investment in technology, is currently waging a legal battle so that it does not have to make its website accessible to the blind. The case, which began three years ago as a lawsuit by blind US resident Guillermo Robles, may go all the way to the US Supreme Court, CNBC reports. The eventual result could become a landmark decision over the rights of people with disabilities and the responsibility of companies to retrofit mobile apps and websites for accessibility.
At the core of case is Domino’s insistence that it should not have to make its website, the predominant platform for ordering pizza from its physical stores, accessible to people with visual impairments. Specifically, Domino’s is contesting Robles’ claim that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers mobile apps or websites, which effectively did not exist in modern form when the ADA was passed in 1990. Robles alleged the ADA does cover the web and software, so long as the business contains physical locations in the US and is soliciting customers over the internet. A federal court agreed.
Domino’s is now arguing against the judgement, and the company petitioned the Supreme Court to weigh in with a 35-page document designed to get the court to accept the case.
The importance of this issue is in the precedent it will set. If Dominos wins their case, will more companies feel free to limit accessibility to the blind or the deaf on their websites? Almost certainly so. Dominos is a multi-million dollar company whose net income has steadily increased over the past several years.
Although there is a Dominos just down the street from us, we don’t care for their pizza, but rather we typically order from a local pizzeria whose website is designed to be accessible to those with both visual and auditory impairments. If a small company can do it … ???
Per Scott …
“I would encourage you all to write to this company and voice your disdain for their willful practice of blatantly ignoring accessibility options which clearly exclude a large segment of the population from partaking in their services. Sure, you can always call them to place an order, which I have done, but will no longer do just on principle, but that’s not the point of this in the first place. If they lose enough customers, maybe they’ll reconsider so I would appreciate it if you would share this, and maybe between all of us, or those of us who see the post, we can make it go viral.”
These days we seem to live in an era of nearly unregulated, unfettered capitalism, an era when what matters most seems to be profit, profit, profit, without regard for the environment or people. The only way, it would seem, to make our voices heard is through our wallets. If a company cannot spend a small amount to accommodate those of us who have special needs, then why should we give them our hard-earned money? I hope that if this case is heard by the Supreme Court, they will see it in the same light.
Thanks to Scott Lawlor for bringing this to our attention!