The absurdity of the fight against accessible websites
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2019 was an interesting year in website accessibility. The simple and elegant premise of accessibility has been pushed aside by aggressive law firms, miserly corporations and apathetic regulatory agencies.
In October the Supreme Court decided not to hear the appeal of Guillermo Robles v. Domino’s Pizza LLC. The background is simple, Mr. Robles is blind and interacts with the web using a screen reader. He claims he was unable to order a pizza at dominos.com or through the Domino's mobile app.
That a blind person could not find a way to order a pizza using these online tools is unremarkable - predictable really. Today's websites are overly interactive and bloated with eye candy. But it hasn't always been this way.
Back in the day when cell phones were beginning their widespread adoption and connection speeds still a problem, website designers offered "mobile-friendly" alternatives. Same content, no bloat and super accessible.
The dawn of smart phones with browsers, alongside the meteoric rise in data transfer rates has resulted in nearly universal adoption of "responsive design" with its slick on-the-fly adaptation to different screen sizes and fancy breakpoints. One size fits all.
But not exactly. While a responsive design fits all screens, it certainly does not fit all audiences. Much of the information is conveyed graphically. Much of the interaction requires a mouse. Great if you have good vision and good motor skills. Not so, if you don't.
The corporate logic to fight this escapes me. To correct the issue would cost Domino's maybe $50,000. One would have to believe this figure pales in comparison to the legal fees the company is racking up fighting this up and through the appellate system. But, to what end? So they don't have to make their website accessible? So they go on record aggressively fighting against it?
I wonder how many executives at Domino's have downloaded a screen reader and, with their monitor turned off, attempted to order a cheese pizza.
Actually, I really don't wonder. I'm pretty sure I know.