A blind man couldn’t order pizza from Domino’s. The company wants the Supreme Court to say websites don’t have to be accessible

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Guillermo Robles, who is blind, has tried to order a custom pizza from Domino’s at least twice in recent years, using the company’s website and mobile app.

He says despite using screen reading software, he wasn’t able to order the food, because the website is not accessible to blind people.

So three years ago, Robles filed a lawsuit against the company. He alleged that the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 1990 law that requires businesses to make accommodations for those with disabilities, applied to the websites and apps of businesses with physical locations. A federal appeals court agreed. Now, the Supreme Court may weigh in.

Robles is one of an increasing number of Americans with disabilities who are bringing lawsuits under the ADA against businesses they say are discriminating against them by not providing accessible websites.

Businesses, including Domino’s, say the lawsuits are a nuisance, and argue that the federal government has not yet put out rules governing how to make their web platforms ADA compliant. But disabled groups and individuals argue that clear international standards exist, and companies must follow them or find another way to make their sites accessible.

Domino’s has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear Robles’ case, where it could prove to be a landmark battle over the rights of disabled people on the internet.

“If businesses are allowed to say, ‘We do not have to make our websites accessible to blind people,’ that would be shutting blind people out of the economy in the 21st century,” said Christopher Danielsen, a representative for the National Federation of the Blind.

The number of lawsuits over inaccessible websites has exploded recently. Last year, more than 2,200 such suits were filed in federal courts, according to the accessible technology firm UsableNet, up from just 814 in 2017.

Among other targets of the accessibility lawsuits: Beyonce.com.

In its petition with the top court, Domino’s wrote that leaving in place the lower court ruling for Robles would “turn that flood of litigation into a tsunami.”

Not great for defendants

Experts point to different causes for the increase in litigation.

One potential cause: In 2017, the Department of Justice said it would not be putting out regulations on the matter, reversing a 2010 announcement that such rules were forthcoming.

Scott Topolski, an attorney at the law firm Cole Schotz who represents businesses in ADA cases, said another cause may be the 2017 decision in the case Gil v. Winn Dixie Stores. In that case, the federal court in Miami held that the grocery chain’s website was required to be accessible.

“That probably emboldened attorneys, certainly here in Florida and probably throughout the country,” Topolski said. “The landscape so far hasn’t been great for defendants and defense attorneys.”

The suits so far have primarily hit those in the retail, food service and travel industries, according to UsableNet. A vast majority of the suits are filed by just 10 attorneys, the group found.

Business groups are lining up behind Domino’s. So far, the Chamber of Commerce, the Restaurant Law Center and the National Retail Federation have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the pizza company.

In its filing with the top court, the Chamber of Commerce wrote that the Justice Department has provided only “inconsistent, nonbinding, and unaccountable” rules for when and how websites must be accessible to those with disabilities.

“The current and worsening uncertainty favors no one, except perhaps the small class of plaintiffs’ firms that have driven this litigation,” attorney Gregory Garre wrote on behalf of the group.

‘Why not innovate and take our money?’

But Danielsen said the Justice Department’s decision not to implement standard rules leaves room for businesses to develop new tools for accessibility.

“Now we are in a situation where businesses should be happy, because although there are web accessibility standards out there, and courts have found them useful, companies have some flexibility and space to innovate,” he said.

“There is a ton of space for innovation in this area,” he added. “Rather than refusing to take the money of those of us with disabilities, why not innovate and take our money?”

Joseph Manning, Robles’ attorney, declined to comment on the case while it’s pending. He is due to file a response by Aug. 14.

The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case, Domino’s Pizza v. Guillermo Robles, when the justices return from their summer recess in the fall.

Original article found here

Working on a website can be difficult. Adding new media and updating pages is chore, even though you know your company website needs to evolve and become more accessible to the many users you are trying to reach. Maybe when you first built it, accessibility wasn’t even really discussed. But now you’ve taken a step back, looked at your customer base with a desire to include everyone and you’ve realized just how important it is to make your site accessible. However, the thought of building a robust site that can do all the things you want it to do is overwhelming.

What is Web Accessibility

A practice of designing and coding the website in order to provide complete compatibility in accessing it by people with disabilities. In addition, it is a way to improve search engine optimization only an ADA Compliant Web Designer will help you to make your website Compliant. Is your website compatible? By going through the checklist below, you can get the answer.

Assessing Current Web Pages and Content

  • The website must include a feature like a navigation link at the top of the page. These links have a bypass mechanism such as a “skip navigation” link. This feature directs screen readers to bypass the row of navigation links and start at the web page content. It is beneficial for people who use screen readers to avoid to listen to all the links each time they jump to a new page.
  • All the links should be understandable when taken out of the context. For example, images without alternative text and links without worded as “click here”.
  • All the graphics, maps, images, and other non-text content must provide text alternatives through the alt attribute, a hidden/visible long description.
  • All the documents posted on the website should available in HTML or another accessible text-based format. It is also applicable to other formats like Portable Document Format (PDF).
  • The online forms on the website should be structured so assistive technology can identify, describe and operate the controls and inputs. By doing this, people with disabilities can review and submit the forms.
  • If the website has online forms, the drop-down list should describe the information instead of displaying a response option. For instance, “Your Age” instead of “18-25”.
  • If the website has data charts and tables, they should be structured so that all data cells are associated with column and row identifiers.
  • All the video files on the website must have audio descriptions (if necessary). This is for the convenience of blind people or for having a visual impairment disability.
  • All the video files on the website must have synchronized captions. People with hearing problems or deaf can access these files conveniently.
  • All the audio files on the website should have synchronized captions to provide access to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • All web pages should be designed so that they can be viewed using visitors’ web browser and operating system settings for color and font.

About Website Accessibility Policy and Procedures

  • One must have a written policy on website accessibility.
  • The website accessibility policy must be posted on the website at a location where it can be easily found.
  • The procedure should be developed to ensure that content is not added to the website until it has been made accessible.
  • It should be confirmed that the website manager has checked the code and structure of all new web pages before they are posted.
  • While adding the PDFs to the website, these should be accessible. Also, the text-based versions of the documents should be accessible at the same time as PDF versions.
  • Make sure that the in-house and contractor staff has received the information about the website accessibility policy and procedure to confirm the website accessibility.
  • It should be confirmed that in-house and contractor staff has received appropriate training on how to ensure the accessibility of the website.
  • The website should have a specific written plan if it contains inaccessible content. Also, it should include timeframes in place to make all of the existing web content accessible.
  • A complete plan to improve website accessibility should be posted along with invited suggestions for improvement.
  • The homepage should include easily locatable information that includes contact details like telephone number and email address. This is useful for reporting website accessibility problems and requesting accessibility services with information.
  • A website should have procedures in place to assure a quick response to the visitors with disabilities who have difficulty in accessing information or services available on the website.
  • Feedback from people who use a variety of assistive technologies is helpful in ensuring website accessibility. So make sure to ask disability groups representing people to provide feedback on the accessibility of your website.
  • Testing the website using a product available on the internet is helpful, These tools are of free cost and check the accessibility of a website. They may not identify all accessibility issues and flag issues that are not accessibility problems. However, these are, nonetheless, a helpful way to improve website accessibility.

Checklist of Action Items for Improving the Accessibility of a Website

In addition, while considering the above suggestions, the following checklist initially prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agencies provides further guidelines on ways to make websites more accessible for persons with disabilities.

This practical advice, as well as another checklist, are available at:

Satisfying all of these items does not necessarily mean that a website complies with ADA, but it will improve the website’s accessibility and decrease the risk of litigation. Again, an Expert or Web Accessibility Consulting & Services provider should be engaged to conduct a comprehensive review of your website.
Nothing brings you closer to reality than actually facing it. This is the premise of my latest attempt to spread awareness about Web Accessibility.
For better understand, here is a link in which a practical example is shown to make the websites’ user experience better by following the guidelines. Also, it tells the issues affecting various users on the internet with solutions.
You can make your website ADA compliant in an easy way by consulting the professionals, who can do this job effortlessly. Also, you can get a quick website audit from To Be ADA Compliant that offers complete web accessibility consulting & services in California, USA.

Resource: https://dev.to/chinchang/an-interactive-and-practical-introduction-to-web-accessibility-22o1