Blind Man Wins Case Over Dominos App, Site

John Lister's picture

A court says Dominos Pizza must make it easier for blind people to order online. It said legal principles should be applied, even though specific regulations aren't yet in place.

The case was brought by would-be customer Guillermo Robles who attempted to use an iPhone to place an order. Although blind, he is able to browse websites using the iPhone's built-in screen reader software.

According to Robles, both the Dominos app and website lacked "alt-text" labels, which are text that describe an image and which can be read out by the screen reader. Robles said the specific missing descriptions meant he couldn't place an order. He was also unable to use a feature for customizing toppings or to use a discount voucher. (Source:

Law Predates Web and Apps

Robles brought the case under the Americans With Disabilities Act. That generally says businesses must always make goods and services available to people with disabilities unless doing so would cause "undue burden" to the business. The problem is that the act was passed in 1990 and did not detail how this principle should apply to online services.

An original ruling in the case said Robles's claim wasn't valid because there aren't yet any government regulations that specifically detail how a website or app does or does not comply with the act. The judge making that ruling said it would be a breach of due process to penalize Dominos because it doesn't have enough information about how it can comply with the law.

Now a panel of three appeal court judges have overturned that ruling. They noted a 1996 Department of Justice regulation that makes clear the act does apply to websites. They also said the constitution only requires that people and businesses know what their legal duties are, rather than having to be told exactly how to fulfill them.

Physical Stores Also an Issue

The judges also noted that the app's unsuitability for blind users has offline consequences, namely that "the alleged inaccessibility of Domino's website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises." (Source:

The appeals court sent the case back to the lower district court and ordered it to rule again on the case. This time, it will simply address whether the app does or doesn't comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

What's Your Opinion?

Should websites and apps be legally required to make sites usable by blind people? Should the government issue specific technical regulations of exactly what sites and apps must do? Should Dominos have fought the case or simply offered to make the necessary changes to its site and app?

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Navy vet's picture

These days people wake up in the morning looking to be offended or for someone to sue. Why couldn't the idiot just call in his order? Next someone will sue the car manufacturers because they don't accommodate blind drivers.

Boots66's picture

I 100% agree with Navy Vet above totally. Robles admits that he is blind, but he obviously refuses to accept the realities of his unfortunate situation. He is legally blind, then if you can manage on this website to use your reader, good for you! But if you cannot manage on the website, then like Navy Vet, says, he is holding a bleeding phone in his hand - USE IT AND MAKE THE CALL!
The only reason he might have a case would be if he could not manage the website, and that was the only way to contact Dominos, which we all know is not the case.
Again, what's next - Suing Car manufacturers because you are blind and still want to drive? What is the reason here - so we can do a Bird Box run like on Netflix?
I have my own issues and am at least smart enough to accept my limitations and then perform life accordingly - I do not try to things that in all reasonable thinking are not possible to me anymore!

rwells78's picture

Navy Vet and Boots66 are 100% correct. There is no right or requirement to use an App or website. If we aren't careful we will sue the entire country into the poorhouse!

Chief's picture

Where do they find these illogical judges? It is not a judge's role to create law.
With logic like this, no advancements in technology should ever be attempted as that would open the inventor to a lawsuit for "failure to provide free updates to all previous users."

Colin Sedgwick's picture

Sorry to disagree... The technology is available therefore MUST be used. Yes he could have used the phone BUT this is beside the point. As i understand the American Constitution EVERYONE IS DEEMED EQUAL. Therefore under the constitution it is an obligation to make everything available regardless of personal situation.

In this day and age it makes me sad to be classed as a human with the bad attitudes of narrow minded people.

We of planet Earth are all one people. If you cannot have compassion for other people then you only dis-ease yourself.

Discrimination is not acceptable.

RedDawg's picture

I had a stroke and now have tunnel vision. Because of this I lost my drivers license. I think I will sue all Automobile manufactures for not producing cars with corrective windshields so I can drive. Think I'll win? I have had to resort to public transportation for 15 years now, that's not fair, I am going to cry to the courts!

Why can't people accept their limitations and get on with their lives, and try to do what good they in the world instead of wasting every-ones time?

I do sympathize with Mr. Robles but he should get over feeling sorry for himself and get on with his life, as is pointed out, he had a phone in his hand call the damn order in or do without a pizza.

Colin Sedgwick's picture

Taken out of context as usual. In my opinion the court case would be to make things better for everyone. If Domino's refused to alter the web site as i suspect, then they deserve everything they get. By the way, do you appreciate others discriminating against you. Probably not.

As i said if the technology is there it must be used. A little coding on the web site is not too much to ask for.

Some of the other comments are just childish and silly although reddawg you might get a car without suing as autonomous vehicles are a fact and just need perfecting.

ehowland's picture

OK, I have some physical and verbal limitations, but it is absurd for me to expect certain things to work when I cannot physically do whatever it is. Colin is a sad PERFECT example of "everyone gets a participation trophy". Colin we tried that in the 90's and still do to some degree. Horrible results. I absolutely cannot run physically anymore. Should I "Sue" the Olympic running team Management because they "refuse" to make concessions to allow folks like me (who cannot run anymore) to be part of the team, ABSURD... (I can no longer run, I just avoid things that involve running, pretty darn simple). This is exactly why there are so many "safe space" needing, 20 and 30 something year old folks, who are so used to getting a trophy for just showing up! People who have physical limitations (like me) cannot expect everything to be converted for their use "no matter what" (some things do not convert, like example above of running in Olympics). Sure ramps next to stairs and many ADA things are great so places are ACCESSIBLE, but to think EVERYTHING must conform is lunacy. If it is a simple code change thing on the cell phone API they would have done it I bet...

David's picture

The ADA, as further clarified in 1996, requires websites to be compliant. If the Dominos website was not compliant then that part of the suit is valid. However, lacking any clarification on apps, and considering how long they have been around without any similar regulatory clarification, it would seem they are not covered by the ADA as the government has not acted to include them in the act's coverage - an omission that would absolve Dominos of any wrongdoing with regards to its app.

LouieLouEye's picture

I have a couple of questions. Is Mr. Robles asking for any money because of his inability to use the online ordering system? Who is paying the costs of his lawsuit? I doubt he is paying thousands of dollars to lawyers only so he can order pizza.

ehowland's picture

Superb points...

There were no "Apps" in 1996 (when the ADA was "clarified"). There was not even a touch screen smart phone (there were barely any websites) so like David points out if the case is about the WEBSITE, it's likely valid, but if it's about a phone APP, no dice at all. Now would it be good for it to have "whatever" is needed to make it better yes... Is it worth a law suite, (no silly and absurd) Like LouieLouEye said very adeptly, who's paying for this (and who pays for dominos to defend them selves against such non sense). Sounds like the only ones who get money for sure are lawyers. Oh and who pays for the court and all the related staff/etc... Oh yeah, us...

russoule's picture

LouieLouEye has it right. Who the heck sues over a pizza? Who pays the court costs over the inability to order a pizza? This sounds very close to the McDonald's lawsuit over hot coffee spilling and Some neferious attorney heard this guy moaning about his inability to order a pizza and decided Domino's had deep pockets to sue. It's a good bet that the attorney financed the whole thing in hopes of getting a settlement or in the event of a win, getting 30% or 40% of the "class action" money. There is currently a "settlement" fund from Subway for having printed on some receipts the last four digits of whatever credit card was used to pay for the $5 sandwiches. The FUND is some $30,900,000 with the two main plaintiffs in the class-action getting $20,000 each and the assumption that the attorneys will get some $10,000,000 or more for their efforts. All for a $5 sandwich. How does this kind of thing make any sense?

dan400man's picture

So, what I gather from this is that I should never publish a website unless I learn how to use "alt-text" labels, otherwise I could be sued? Do I have that right?

Would it be sufficient to put a disclaimer on a website that, if the user lives in a jurisdiction that dictates web content and accessibility, they are prohibited from using the site?