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    I think the view that accessibility is something special and only for people with disabilities is just wrong. There are some special things like high contrast themes for sure, but generally, it makes a website better for everyone.

    Same with physical environments. A wheelchair-accessible location is also automatically pram/stroller accessible and so on.

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      I agree, it seems like people think of accessibility as something only a very few people need; something charitable for that small part of the population, but largely unnecessary. In reality, I find myself constantly using accessibility features. My left earbud is slightly damaged and not as loud as the right one? “Accessibility”. It’s late and I want to reduce the white point to make the screen darker than the darkest setting? “Accessibility”. I want to use a plug-in to click links with the keyboard instead of the mouse? Machine-readability is “accessibility”. I want to enable mono audio because the video I’m listening to has audio in only one channel? “Accessibility”.

      I think our industry would make better products if it viewed user control and machine readability as the default rather than charity for the blind/deaf/whatever.

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        I suspect the roots of this antipathy towards accessibility may run deeper than just seeing it as burdensome charity. It is precisely the increase in user control and machine readability that is the problem, because it often clashes with business models which rely on retaining control over data and/or users’ attention (although it’s not the case for Domino’s perhaps).

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          That’s honestly probably true - and infuriating.

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          And moreover, it isn’t actually that hard to make an accessible website! Maybe not a great experience, but a workable one is achieved if you just stick to your basic fundamentals.

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          Those of us who are normally in healthy condition occasionally do not have our full faculties. Maybe we’re carrying a bag or an infant with one arm. Or we’ve suffered an injury from which we’ll eventually heal. Or maybe our hands are dirty at the moment. Or we’re trying to enjoy a movie or TV show in a noisy environment, and so avail of subtitles, even though our hearing is fine.

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          I have read somewhere that what they are fighting is not about making the website accessible but about a form of legal extortion that particular law firms engage in. The claim is that under the ADA the plaintiff does not get damages but the lawyers get costs. So the strategy is not to fix compliance but to sue right away. Is this true? People here must have some direct knowledge of this.

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            Yes, this legal extortion is real. For example, check out Stop The ADA Trolls, and it follow-up articles, by a blind accessibility advocate.

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              Lawsuits targeting business websites over ADA violations are on the rise - LA Times. I think I have read about it elsewhere as well.

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                A little thought will suggest that though it’s a large website Domino’s can probably hire (with their millions in profits) a few software engineers for a year and have an accessible website. They chose not to.

                And that’s why large fines are good. If the fine was $50K, they would just say “eh, cheaper not to do it” and violate the law.

                Ideally those fines would go to government, not private lawyers, but enforcing laws isn’t something the US government seems to care much about anymore (or I wouldn’t be getting scam phone calls every day, for example).

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                  I wonder if it would be fair if the law were “if you don’t provide an accessible version, then anyone can commercialize an accessible version of your IP until you do so yourself”.

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                    I’d be sympathetic towards them if they’d actually tried to make their site accessible, and this was about some weird corner case. But it sounds like they just went and built the site for only sighted users.

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                    Because paying lawyers is better than actually fixing your site using basic well-established tech that has been around for decades 🙄

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                      Every large company is going to be paying the lawyers regardless.

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                        Yeah, how often is the Domino’s legal department going to have the opportunity of going to the Supreme Court? They might be doing this for the novelty of it all!

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                          Well perhaps they would need fewer layers if they were not pursuing cases like this

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                        This will probably be very unpopular but where do you draw the line? What about freedom of expression without a lot of rules and constraints? If I publish a book in print, am I also forced to produce a Braille version, and an audio version as well? Is black ink on white page -only acceptable? Of course it would be nice but what if I cannot afford any additional production costs…

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                          The lawsuit is based on a very specific law, the ADA, covering a specific situation (“services of a public accommodation”). So no, you wouldn’t be forced to publish a book in braille, it’s a not a service of public accommodation.

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                            I don’t think that physical products (like books) are the same as services (ordering pizza).

                            Other than that, this all sounds nice in theory, but the problem with it is that very quickly you run in to a situation where people have a very hard time using basic services like ordering pizza. Freedom isn’t a one-dimensional metric that can only go “up” or “down”; sometimes increasing freedom in one area for some decreases the freedom for others.

                            I don’t think that a situation where every website is forced to be strictly compliant with all accessibility standards would be a good thing, but some action to ensure that basic services are accessible doesn’t strike as a bad thing, especially given the state of the “modern” web. Clearly the developers themselves/free market isn’t going to solve it.

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                              Forcing business to put money into making their software more accessible for people they clearly do not care about as customers is not defending anyone’s freedoms.

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                                What about the freedom of people to fully participate in society?

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                                  One can participate in that which they are offered participation: Dominos are not offering participation.

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                                    This all sounds very simplistic to me. What if no pizza stores “offers participation”. Should people just accept that they won’t be able to order pizza?

                                    That is essentially what the Americans with Disabilities Act is about: making sure people aren’t excluded from vast swaths of society by these sort of “deaths by a thousand cuts”. I don’t really care about Domino’s as such, I care about people having to deal with this kind of stuff at every turn of their lives.

                                    As I said in my previous reply, I’m not completely sure where the balance should be, and it’s a good topic for reasonable discussion, but you seem to be in denial that the discussion even exists by simply handwaving away entire positions. That’s not very helpful.

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                                      I don’t believe in the ADA anyway, but: The app is not the only method of ordering pizza, and Domino’s is not the only pizzeria. With so many alternatives in method and supplier available, I don’t see forcing app accessibility as doing anything but restricting freedom of expression. If Domino’s app was the only method of ordering pizza, maybe it’d be fair enough, but that’s nowhere near the case.

                                2. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: Escalating to racial politics clearly did not turn out well for this thread.]

                                  1. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: Escalating to racial politics clearly did not turn out well for this thread.]

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                                      This is not exactly a new issue. The Americans with Disabilities Act – which is the law being quoted here – covers this kind of stuff:

                                      One of the definitions of “discrimination” under Title III of the ADA is a “failure to remove” architectural barriers in existing facilities. This means that even facilities that have not been modified or altered in any way after the ADA was passed still have obligations. The standard is whether “removing barriers” (typically defined as bringing a condition into compliance with the ADAAG) is “readily achievable”, defined as “…easily accomplished without much difficulty or expense”.

                                      The statutory definition of “readily achievable” calls for a balancing test between the cost of the proposed “fix” and the wherewithal of the business and/or owners of the business. Thus, what might be “readily achievable” for a sophisticated and financially capable corporation might not be readily achievable for a small or local business.

                                      I would argue that some basic adjustments to a website to make it more accessible is “readily achievable”. If anything, I find it astonishing how so many of these very simple websites are so hard to use with even the most basic a11y tools :-/

                                    2. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: Escalating to racial politics clearly did not turn out well for this thread.]

                                      1. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: Escalating to racial politics clearly did not turn out well for this thread.]

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                                Correct me if I’m wrong, but couldn’t this be an amazing thing? If the Supreme Court agrees with the previous judgement that the ADA applies to websites, wouldn’t that mean it’s essentially set in stone that websites have to have some degree of machine readability and decent contrast and such?

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                                  It would also set in stone more government regulation on the internet and it’s contents, and set further precedent for applying concepts made for the physical world onto the digital world.

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                                    In a world where more and more interactions with “utilities” such as banks, government agencies, grocery stores etc. are online, a baseline of functionality is desirable.

                                    I’m inclined to hope that basic market competition and PR would enforce this functionality, but I’m sure that there are beancounters that decide that skipping accessibility is a cost worth paying.

                                    Edit I was not aware that Domino’s is available in my city, but it is. As the partner of a blind person I’ll do my best to ensure we never buy anything from them in the future.

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                                      Setting in stone pro-consumer regulation and set precedent for applying pro-consumer concepts made for the physical world onto the digital world doesn’t sound like the worst thing ever.

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                                        There are far more regulations, many anti-consumer, the government will have precedent to apply. When you give government an inch, they take far more than a mile.

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                                          I mean, that might be true in the US, I don’t know. You guys seem to have a pretty fucked up system of government. However, in Norway, and in the EU, I feel like the various governmental bodies are actually doing things to protect consumers from bad business practices, and those regulations seem to be largely a good thing.

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                                            It is a shame that most technologists here aren’t at least pausing to think about the implications of what you’re saying. For example, the regulations might exclude teenagers from creating websites at all.

                                            The solution might be to make an app designed for people with specific disabilities – an app which can use other apps. This is difficult on iOS, but doable on android.

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                                              For example, the regulations might exclude teenagers from creating websites at all.

                                              Making (minimally) accessible websites is trivially easy. I betcha the typical site a teenager would make would be good enough for the blind too.

                                              But regardless, a teenager could argue that it isn’t a public accommodation too; it is just a personal toy instead.

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                                                It might be a small website advertising baby sitting. Or grass cutting. Or some other public accommodation. With a picture of little Johnny or Susie smiling at the top. But oops. No alt text. That’ll be $5000 please.

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                                          Not really. It’s case-law, not additional regulation: It would just be clarifying an existing regulation that Domino’s clearly should have been following in the first place.

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                                            Isn’t the counter argument that the ADA has no jurisdiction over websites and mobile apps? I don’t think this could be a simple case law situation with that large of a leap.

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                                              Why wouldn’t it? The ADA isn’t restricted to physical infrastructure, even though it does call out a number of specific requirements around transportation and architecture. The core of it is that public accommodations are forbidden from discrimination, including « failure to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities ». It was written in 1990, so of course it doesn’t talk about web accessibility. But online ordering is just as much a part of how Domino’s operates as a commercial entity catering to the public as walking into their storefronts is. And not only are they a public accommodation, they were exclusively offering some deals through their website, meaning ordering by phone was not an equivalent option; the website needs full accessibility.

                                              When new technologies and social institutions arise, they don’t exist in a law-free zone. We have to figure out how they’re covered, or not, by existing law.

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                                                Nah they’ll make the deals work over the phone because they’ll make the employees use the same site. I’ll be you a pizza they do this instead of anything else.

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                                                  That would have been a reasonable course of action, and possibly would have put them in compliance, but that’s not in fact what they’re doing.

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                                                    You are aware that Dominoes didn’t file the amicus brief to take this to the Supreme Court, right?


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                                        My comment comparing ADA in this case to the results of the Public Accomodations section of the Civil Rights Act was moderated out for “escalating racial politics” or some similar excuse - but most likely as a result of me complaining about a reply in which a white commentator writes in what he must think is black dialect to tell me what he imagines people “in the hood” think. That is utter bullshit and perhaps it’s time to say goodbye.

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                                          Please don’t leave. If you find the energy, reach out to me in PM and we can discuss this.

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                                            I didn’t read the comment you mentioned so I’m not gonna make a judgement there, but I also find neither the deletion message nor leaving @arp242 comment appropriate, since in my opinion it leaves the reader with a different impression of what was actually discussed. Also if @nickpsecurity’s comment was the reason for deleting the thread then why not delete from that node onwards? ping @pushcx.

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                                              I pruned from vyodaiken’s first comment about the Civil Rights Act because it was off-topic. I considered going from nickpsecurity’s respones down, but vyodaiken flaming him made me think it better to take the whole thing rather than get paged into this running off-topic argument over and over. The topic is a hell of a lot bigger, more important, and less relevant to computing than Lobsters can host. Vyodaiken PM’d to say he was leaving unless I restored it and then did so.

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                                                thanks for the clarification!

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                                            Genuine question: Was calling to order a pizza not an option?

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                                              No* it wasn’t.

                                              *Yes, but it would have cost more. They had an online only discount.