US Court Says Domino's Pizza Must Make App and Website Accessible

A court in the US has ruled in favour of a visually impaired man who filed a federal lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza over their inaccessible mobile app and website.

Guillermo Robles, a blind man, first filed the lawsuit in September 2016, claiming he was unable to use the Domino’s mobile app and website to order a customised pizza as they did not work with screen-reading technology. Mr Robles was therefore also unable to take advantage of online only deals offered by the major global pizza chain.

The lawsuit claimed that Domino’s were in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and advised that it should ensure that its online platforms meet the standards outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the internationally accepted standards for web accessibility.

Find out more about online accessibility and the WCAG in the SCOVI Design for Inclusion Toolkit.

Robles' case was initially dismissed in March 2017 with presiding judge for the federal court in Pasadena, S. James Otero, stating that the Americans with Disabilities Act could not apply to the company's website and app as no formal guidelines on online accessibility had been passed down from the Department of Justice. This was overturned on appeal, however, by a three judge panel.

“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,” Judge Owens wrote for the panel.

The panel's 25-page opinion published by Court House News states that it has been clear since 1996 that the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, that a company must provide full and equal access to those with disabilities, extends to websites and online access. It added that Domino's could not bypass this law simply by highlighting a lack of precise federal rules around online accessibility.

“While we understand why Domino’s wants DOJ to issue specific guidelines for website and app accessibility, the Constitution only requires that Domino’s receive fair notice of its legal duties, not a blueprint for compliance with its statutory obligations,” Judge Owens wrote.

This case could set an important precedent for online accessibility across the USA, and will hopefully raise awareness of the importance of compliance with the WCAG across the globe.

Following an EU directive, regulations came into force in September 2018 requiring public bodies in the UK to meet a minimum standard of website accessibility, despite this a recent study found that 4 in 10 local councils’ homepages failed basic tests for accessibility. New laws covering website accessibility for public bodies will be rolled out across the EU in September 2019.

Legislation for private companies is likely to follow in the coming years, however, many elements of website accessibility are already enforceable across the UK under the Equality Act 2010.

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