Domino’s Pizza and the right to discriminate against disabled users

Domino’s Pizza is fighting a judgement that they must make their website and apps accessible to abide by ADA law.

Domino’s claims it would face high costs to develop a website and app experience that’s accessible. They also claim the rules around digital accessibility are unclear.

Let’s look at the argument that accessibility is cost-prohibitive:

That can be a legitimate problem for businesses making software with a long history. For example, say a software company has made a desktop web app for nearly 20 years with a narrow focus of supporting Internet Explorer since the early 2000s. They rely on Microsoft to enable features to support legacy web apps to ensure they don’t break when new versions of the browser release. However, that reason won’t be justifiable for long, Microsoft’s replacement for IE, the Edge browser, is the default for Windows and is going to have the same rendering engine as Google Chrome.

That’s not what Domino’s is faced with, though. Domino’s spent a large amount of money updating their site and apps fairly recently. When that project was scoped by the UX and development team, why didn’t they account for creating it using known Web standards that every good design/development team should know and support accessibility at that time? This was a recent development, not a project weighed down by a decade of understandably challenging technical debt to overcome. Domino’s is going to face input from UX professionals and Web developers who will say ignorance of the user requirement of Web accessibility in a modern digital product would not qualify as an acceptable excuse.

Who made the decision to ignore designing and developing with Web standards and accessibility features? They were either grossly incompetent or intentionally negligent.

As for the cost, Domino’s doesn’t seem to mind spending money on supporting new initiatives, like the “Ultimate Pizza Delivery Vehicle” experiment.

As for the unclear rules argument, that’s a flimsy excuse. Web designers and developers are aware of the WCAG. It’s the design and development team’s responsibility to inform their client or employer that building with established and creating a flexible framework to account for evolving Web standards and accessibility features is an absolute necessity for delivering a usable product for years and a framework for future growth. Using semantic HTML/CSS isn’t a “nice to have” for any company doing business online.

My hope is the Supreme Court, assuming they take the case, looks at the wider scope of a decision on digital accessibility and recognizes there are important repercussions of this decision. While the Department of Justice in the Trump administration has decided not to pursue the standardization of the rules for digital accessibility, there were known standards that lower courts have decided serve as the standards for digital accessibility. They are industry-wide knowledge and openly shared and updated.

Other companies performing services that are less trivial than pizza orders conducting an even greater percentage of their business online, like job recruitment and posting sites, company websites with sections to apply for employment, and the financial services sector, could be incompetent or lazy with accessibility user needs and disenfranchise the ability to submit for employment or manage financial accounts.

Those with disabilities like visual impairments, muscular issues or dexterity challenges could be closed out of opportunities to develop their career, improve their income, and grow their wealth. What about sites and apps from private healthcare companies?

I would be surprised to see a judgement from the court that does not consider the impact of ignoring users with disabilities, especially when looking at other contexts where this could be detrimental to the financial wellness and personal health of users with accessibility challenges.

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