News & Media

Supreme Court Declines to Hear ADA-Accessible Website Case

In turning down a case, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a lower court order to stand – a decision that said Domino’s (the pizza giant) must give disabled website customers the same access tools as non-disabled customers. However, federal access standards do not yet exist.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not hear Domino’s petition on whether its website is accessible to disabled people is considered a loss for the pizza giant and a win for disability advocates.

The case was one of a long list of those the Supreme Court announced it wouldn’t hear, and the court made no comment in declining to take the case. Monday was the Supreme Court’s first day of arguments after its summer break.

The order to not hear the case keeps in place a January ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Domino’s and other retailers must make their online services accessible.

“Although Domino’s is disappointed that the Supreme Court will not review this case, we look forward to presenting our case at the trial court,” Domino’s said in a statement posted on its website Monday. “We also remain steadfast in our belief in the need for federal standards for everyone to follow in making their websites and mobile apps accessible.”

Guillermo Robles, who is blind, claimed in U.S. District Court in California that the pizza maker violated the federal disability requirements because he couldn’t order a pizza on his iPhone: The website didn’t work with his screen-reader software.

“In today’s tech-savvy world, blind and visually-impaired people have the ability to access websites and mobile applications using keyboards in conjunction with screen access software that vocalizes the visual information found on a computer screen or displays the content on a refreshable Braille display,” the lawsuit argued.

In January, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Domino’s and other retailers must make their online services accessible.

Robles’ attorney, Joe Manning, said in a statement to CNBC Monday that the Supreme Court’s decision was “the right call on every level.”

“The blind and visually impaired must have access to websites and apps to fully and equally participate in modern society – something nobody disputes,” he said.

Domino’s, along with the National Retail Federation and Retail Litigation Center, urged the Supreme Court to hear the case because the appeal court’s ruling “stretched the definition 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.”

According to the pizza company, a customized pizza can be ordered in-store, by phone, text, social media and voice-activated devices like Alexa and Google Home. Domino’s says it is developing a proprietary voice-ordering digital assistant, Dom.

Copyright 2019, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY, Kelly Tyko. Contributing: Associated Press; Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press