A recent California federal district court ruling found the accessibility option on a Domino’s pizza website to be ill-fit for those with visually impaired customers. The ruling could impact the website design of home builders, remodelers, developers, and others. As more companies enact virtual sales options, those virtual options must be available to all. For example, if a builder offers customers with an option to customize their home, it must offer the same option for those needing accommodations. In the case of Domino's, the court ruled its visual impairment accommodation, a phone call to a representative that followed a 45-minute wait, was not suitable.
In doing so, the court reinforced Ninth Circuit precedent holding that company websites having a “nexus” to a physical (i.e., brick-and-mortar) place of public accommodation are subject to the ADA.
The court further ruled that Domino’s call-in phone line was not an acceptable web accessibility substitute because the plaintiff was unable to reach a live person for more than 45 minutes. Although the $4,000 in damages awarded to the plaintiff was not significant, the court further approved the recovery of attorney fees, which are likely reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The case could impact builders, multifamily developers, remodelers and other businesses that offer goods or services through a website, if the site is not accessible to persons with disabilities. For example, if a builder’s website allows a potential buyer to select finishes, carpet type/color and other home options without the need to visit a physical sales office, the website should be designed with accessibility features to enable all potential buyers this same opportunity.