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Supreme Court Hands Win To Blind Man In Domino's Website Accessibility Dispute

11 October 2019

Domino's sought to overturn that, but the Supreme Court stood by the lower court ruling, denying the petition on October 7, delivering a victory to those with disabilities and a defeat for Domino's.

Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors' offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation-as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)-to comply with the ADA Standards.

Although Domino's likes to embrace technology for better customer experiences, the pizza chain's website recently became the subject of a lawsuit when it was found to be inaccessible for the disabled.

He urged the Supreme Court to reject the Domino's appeal, saying he isn't getting the benefits of online ordering.

Robles says he uses the popular "Job Access With Speech" software, known as JAWS, to read web pages.

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This is a win for disability advocates, who argued in court that without accessibility options, the economy is missing a substantial portion of revenue when they shut out groups of disabled people.

This typically means graphics and embedded hyperlinks must include alternative text, a description of the image that appears when a cursor floats over it or screen-reading software detects it, allowing blind people to order through it.

Robles contends that without alt-text, he can't order customized pizzas on the Domino's website.

In a statement, Domino's said it has taken steps to make its services accessible.

Robles appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled that online services of companies were subject to Title III of the ADA and that the off-premises nature of the services did not change the need for accessibility accommodations.

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The Ninth Circuit had ruled, essentially, that the ADA could be extended to the Web, protecting people sitting at home much the way it protected those seated in a restaurant.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found a year ago that the "alleged inaccessibility of Domino's website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises" - a finding that the Supreme Court let stand. "And Domino's provides some discounts exclusively online". The petition sought review of a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

With its order, the high court let stand a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which held in January that Guillermo Robles, a blind man, could sue the national pizza chain under the Americans with Disabilities Act if its website and mobile app did not work with common screen-reading software.

Joe Manning, Robles attorney, stated that the court made the right decision.

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Supreme Court Hands Win To Blind Man In Domino's Website Accessibility Dispute