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Dr Scott Hollier - Digital Access Specialist Posts

Domino’s Pizza accessibility case stands despite Supreme Court appeal

The ability to order pizza in the USA remains at the forefront of accessibility discussion as its Supreme Court rejected Domino’s appeal to a case regarding the accessibility of its pizza ordering app.

As posted in January, the complaint was brought forward by Guillermo Robles, a blind Domino’s customer who said that the iOS based app on the iPhone did not work effectively with the VoiceOver screen reader. As a result, he was unable to change pizza toppings, complete the order or use coupons.

The case began in 2016 with an argument based on the belief that not being able to complete an order placed Domino’s in breach of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Specifically, the Act states it is unlawful for businesses to deny individuals with disabilities access to their goods and services unless the effort involved places them under an “undue burden”.

Supreme pizza from Domino's

Supreme Pizza (Copyright © Domino’s Pizza)

While the case was initially lost, Robles was successful on appeal and Domino’s Pizza USA was required to fix its website and app. Domino’s appealed this ruling, but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, paving the way for other claims by people with disabilities should online content not comply with accessibility standards. This ruling represents the first time a federal court of appeals has ever decided whether Title III of the ADA applies to a business’s website or mobile apps.

The accessibility issue featured in the case primarily revolves around the lack of alternative text for images, a common complaint faced by blind and vision impaired users of fast food apps due to the rapidly-changing nature of special products often resulting in alternative text being skipped over in the rush to promote items. As a result, a future Domino’s online store is now required to ensure that its website and app are compliant with web accessibility standards and compatible with VoiceOver on iOS devices.

While Domino’s Pizza USA is a separate trading entity to Domino’s Pizza Australia, the ruling is likely to spark other online food providers to take notice and update their content to more effectively support the needs of people with disabilities.

South Australian accessibility toolkit nominated for Human Rights Award Toolkit

The South Australian government has published an online accessibility toolkit that is a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Awards 2019.

South Australian government accessibility toolkit

The resource has been co-designed with over 100 organisations including Vision Australia, the Royal Society for the Blind (SA), Blind Citizens Australia (SA), not-for-profits, people with disability and leaders in the disability sector.

The toolkit contains a wealth of information, designed to assist across all areas of digital access including project management, digital content, development, visual design, policy and support.

It’s my view that the toolkit is a valuable and comprehensive accessibility resource that demonstrates both the importance of digital access and how such information can be delivered in a straightforward and practical manner. I’d encourage everyone to have a look at the resource and it’s great to see this work receiving the recognition it deserves.

Microsoft releases Surface Earbuds with live captioning support

Microsoft recently announced at its October Surface Event in New York a number of new products. While the new tablets and laptops were the primary focus, an important accessibility feature was also highlighted in the form of real-time captioning using the new Surface Earbuds and its integration into Office 365.

The earbuds feature two microphones to minimise background noise and improve audio clarity. The live demonstration showed how new functionality in Office 365’s PowerPoint can effectively show live captioning.

In addition to the captioning feature, PowerPoint can also be used to instantly translate the text providing improved accessibility to culturally and linguistically diverse audiences.

While automated captioning remains an issue in relation to its quality and accuracy, recent evolutions in audio quality, speech processing and improved integration between hardware and software have seen a notable improvement in the ability for largely usable captions to be more widely available at events and in the classroom.

The initial price of the Surface Earbuds will be $UDS249. There is currently no release date. For additional information, visit the Microsoft Surface Earbuds page.

BBC ‘Would I Lie to yYou?’ features humourus take on disability and technology

The BBC recently aired an episode of its popular TV show. ‘Would I Lie to You?’ which features blind actor and comedian Chris McCausland.

The show talks about many disability-related scenarios with a humourus take on life as a blind person, along with thebenefits and challenges of assistive technology.

It’s great to see some mainstream discussion – and a bit of humour – on disability-related issues and technologies.

Thank you DHS for the opportunity to support your access journey

One of the things that I find exciting working in the digital access space is to see large government departments working hard to make their digital content and processes accessible.  Recently I had the privilege to work with the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Adelaide who are in the process of growing internal accessibility knowledge.

The DHS are likely best known to Australians for their Centrelink online presence, but the Federal government department undertakes a lot of work across many different areas. My involvement has been to support staff that are working hard to incorporate accessibility into their work practices.

A core part of the initial work was to deliver two presentations to approximately 150 staff providing a broad overview of digital access, from the personal journey of a blind user through to the use of assistive technologies. There was also information provided on the importance of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standard and future technological developments in which accessibility needs to be considered.

Another focus of the work was the delivery of a digital access workshop to approximately 20 staff which provided more specific guidance on interacting directly with web content and documents. The workshop provided an opportunity for attendees to experience the use of assistive technologies for themselves and assess web content using automated tools. The workshop also provided opportunities for discussion of the issues and put strategies in place to continue the conversation.

Given the fact that DHS interacts with millions of Australians with disability on a regular basis, it’s exciting to see access issues being identified and addressed as the processes internally and externally continue to improve. Many thanks to the management and staff for the opportunity to meet your digital access needs.