Domino’s is at the center of an ‘internet accessibility’ fight, and the oven’s heating up

Domino’s has petitioned for the Supreme Court to hear its case against Guillermo Robles; a blind man suing for better ordering accessibility on the company’s website.


August 21, 2019

According to Domino’s website, the pizza giant sells more than 1m pizzas every day, and offers at least 15 digital ways to order one. But, in 2016, Guillermo Robles, a blind man, discovered that a system for people with disabilities to order fresh ‘za wasn’t one of them — so he sued.

The federal courts sided with Robles that same year. And last month, Domino’s petitioned to take this battle to the Supreme Court. 

Should the Supreme Court accept the case, its outcome could forever alter internet regulation — and determine the future of internet accessibility for nearly 61m disabled Americans.

It’s a near-sighted nightmare

To make their websites accessible to disabled consumers, businesses will sometimes update their code to integrate with software makes websites easier to navigate for those with disabilities. 

But, because the American Disabilities Act (ADA) was written in 1990, the stance over whether businesses are legally obligated to update their software was never specified, causing a regulatory gray area that has led to years of varying court rulings.

Let the battle begin

The pizza giant argues that compliance with the ADA would prove costly and superfluous since the bill doesn’t include internet provisions.

But leaders in the disabled community believe that online coverage has always been implied — even in the internet’s nascency. 

“When we wrote the bill and it passed almost 30 years ago, obviously, the internet was not up and alive,” said the former California Representative, and author of the ADA, Tony Coelho. “But when we say the bill covers all public accommodations, we believe that applies today to the internet.”

Now, Domino’s, which is backed by the US Chamber of Commerce and some of the nation’s largest retailers, wants the Supreme Court to step in and take a side.

Really, Domino’s?

With an embarrassment of studies that show how consumers are much less likely to support a product if they disagree with its maker’s social philosophies these days, many agree that this is a lose-lose move for the pizza giant.

“I find it hard to believe they would spend millions to fight something like this instead of spending a fraction of that money to fix their site and make it accessible,” said Mark Shapiro, president of the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, Inc.

The Supreme Court will decide whether it will take the case on or not. Once it’s back from its summer recess, that is…

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