Increasingly, Domino’s is seen as a company striving to get pizzas anywhere at any time and to anyone. But that apparently doesn’t include the blind.
In the last year alone, the company has made many advancements when it comes to finding easier, faster ways to get the pie to customers, from autonomous delivery to testing in-vehicle ordering and delivering to non-traditional addresses via location services technology.
But an article published this week on Eater noted that Domino’s is “willing to go to the Supreme Court” in order to fight a ruling that would require the pizza-tech heavyweight to make its website accessible to the blind.
As the article explains, California resident Guillermo Robles, who is blind, filed a lawsuit against Domino’s after two failed attempts to order a customized pizza from the Domino’s website and mobile app, arguing that protections under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to brick-and-mortar businesses’ online properties, too. But after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Robles in January, Domino’s is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Robles case, arguing that the Federal government hasn’t yet issued rules for businesses on how to make their websites (and mobile apps and other digital properties) ADA compliant.
Eater has the full breakdown of the case’s details, and also highlights the rise in lawsuits (what Domino’s suggested was a “flood of litigation” in its petition) against websites for failing to account for those with disabilities.
In the case of Domino’s part of the issue is litigation: In its petition, Domino’s wrote that, “Left undisturbed, the Ninth Circuit’s decision would turn that flood of litigation into a tsunami” and that the Supreme Court’s review “is imperative to stem a burdensome litigation epidemic.”
But getting buried in legal fees or no, it highlights an important point that, while Domino’s is definitely a part of it, is much, much bigger than a single pizza chain: this brave new restaurant world of digital-first ordering, AI-powered recommendations, drive-thrus of the future, and any number of other developments in the restaurant industry need to work harder at making their solutions available to not just most people but to all people.
We’ve seen this issue of inclusivity surface around other areas of food tech, most recently with the discriminatory nature of cashless payments towards underbanked and unbanked populations. And we’ve seen how the answers aren’t always simple, as the debate over providing plastic straws to persons with disabilities suggests.
Now what we need to see is more people — tech companies, delivery services, the restaurants themselves, acknowledging this growing problem of inclusivity and refocusing some of their energy around all this so-called innovation. As a leader in both the restaurant industry and restaurant tech sector, Domino’s — and other major chains — should be setting an example for other smaller companies and showing them how to use tech to the benefit of everyone, rather than spending their time petitioning the Federal government. They may be trying to stem “burdensome litigation” right now, but they’ll be trying to stem a lot of bad press and lost business in the future.