Updated: Jan 15
The U.S. Supreme court decided it would not hear a petition from Domino’s Pizza recently. This comes after a blind man sued the company for not having an accessible website, even while using his screen reader.
The ruling now stands where it did after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals –Domino’s Pizza (along with other similar retailers) have to make their online services accessible.
This is no surprising news. Retailers should make their services accessible to everyone, and regulations are only now beginning to be put in place to reflect this.
Yet Domino’s Pizza , along with other groups such as the National Retail Foundation wanted this trial to reach the Supreme Court. But they are not arguing against this ruling because they want to discriminate against blind or otherwise disabled people. They want the trial to go to the Supreme Court to create a federal precedent and define accessibility in regards to the internet.
Their argument in this particular instance is that this case and decision “Stretched the definition [of accessibility] too far by deciding that websites and mobile applications must be judged as public accommodations rather than just considered as one of many ways in which a consumer might access a retailer’s offerings.”
Retail advocacy groups also note the importance of a Supreme Court decision in setting a federal standard that businesses can use to make their services accessible for all.
Their argument is valid, as it sheds some light on an issue with conducting business online. We know the ADA covers websites, as we learn from recent rulings. However, the issue is there are still no federal regulations set in place that list the accessibility requirements businesses must meet.
Things like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are said to be the standard for accessibility, but even these extensive requirements have not been backed up by a court ruling.
Because of this, there are many who actually see this Supreme Court decision as a step backwards for accessibility. By saying they will not hear the case, the Supreme Court has decided they will not create a federal precedent for accessibility.
In short, this means it will take even longer to get a federal standard to adhere to, meaning more people will wait to make their sites accessible until this standard is released. This means the number of accessibility cases will go up, which increases the amount of conflicting information around accessibility based on circuit courts decisions around the country…it’s a vicious circle.
One way to end this circle and unclog the litigation around accessibility is for the Supreme Court to actually hear a case. So while it is considered a big win for accessibility advocates, some consider the Domino’s ruling to be a step backwards for actual, attainable accessibility.
What does it mean for your business?
Following the waves of accessibility news over the last year the question on everyone’s mind is: What does this mean for your business?
Accessibility is here
The Domino’s accessibility case is considered a win for accessibility on the internet. Yet many online retailers and people offering their services online see the changes to the regulations surrounding accessibility as yet another cost they have to factor in when creating and operating an online presence.
It’s true, accessibility comes at an up-front cost from businesses. But this is a good thing. Even if the thought of being “forced to” be more accessible ruffles a few feathers, surely opening your website up to more customers is only making business better, right?
There have been no hard set rules about ADA website compliance yet, but the Domino’s accessibility case shows us one thing: Accessibility is here.
So if you are like other companies looking to “wait it out” on your website accessibility – you are already behind schedule.
The Domino’s case is important in a way, but it essentially only confirms what we already knew. The internet landscape is shifting to be more accessible for all. If your website is not shifting with it, you are looking at a potential loss in traffic in the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario…you are set up to be the next Domino’s pizza.
This is not meant to be a scare tactic, but to be blunt about the shifting ADA regulations. If you need it in business terms: if you aren’t making your site more accessible, your competitors are.
Our advice? Website accessibility is a huge undertaking. Start now. Do a little bit each day to make your site more accessible.
While the Domino’s accessibility case won’t make it to the Supreme Courts to set a federal accessibility standard – some case will eventually. And then, if your business is not up to par with accessibility standards, you will be even more behind. Contact WixLab for expert help.