In late July, coinciding with the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) entered into a landmark settlement agreement with Carnival Corp. to improve the physical accessibility of 62 cruise ships sailing under the Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruise brands. The agreement, also
By Minh N. Vu
They are sprouting up everywhere: Kiosks that allow customers to buy tickets, rent DVDs, get boarding passes, check-in at a hotel, count change, and even rent cars without ever having to interact with a human being. These self-service kiosks can be a boon for customers and businesses, but they also create lawsuit exposure for businesses that fail to consider how they will be used by individuals who are blind or have limited mobility.
Redbox’s recent settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by advocates for the blind highlights this thorny issue and the uncertain legal landscape surrounding self-service equipment designed for customer use. Several blind individuals and an advocacy group sued Redbox because its DVD rental kiosks could not be independently used by non-sighted individuals. After two years of litigation and mediation, the parties entered into a class settlement under which Redbox agreed to take the following steps for all Redbox locations in California:
- incorporate audio guidance technology, a tactile keypad, and other accessibility features into its DVD rental kiosks so that blind customers can use them independently at one kiosk at every location within 18 months and at all California kiosks within 30 months;
- provide 24-hour telephone assistance at each kiosk;
- pay $1.2 M in damages to the class of aggrieved persons in California;
- pay Lighthouse for the Blind $85K to test kiosks;
- pay $10K to each named plaintiff in damages; and
- pay $800K in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs.
Redbox also agreed to make certain accessibility improvements to its website but notably did not commit to meeting the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.…
Continue Reading Accessible Technology: Redbox DVD Rental Kiosk Class Action Settlement Highlights Litigation Risk Presented by Self-Service Equipment
Once again, CSUN’s International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference brought together thought leaders, programmers, corporate and governmental accessibility representatives, vendors of digital accessibility solutions, advocates, and others in the field of digital accessibility to share developments and ideas. The large, varied crowd, as well as the substantive sessions, remove any possible doubt that the area of web and mobile accessibility is rightfully garnering a lot of attention.
Although the Department of Justice is still working on proposed regulations that would presumably adopt a legal standard defining what is an accessible website or mobile app, its recent enforcement actions make clear that the absence of regulations poses no impediment to legal action against businesses for not having accessible websites or mobile apps. Private plaintiffs have been also been very active in filing lawsuits or asserting such claims against many companies. In this climate, many companies that have either been the targets of these actions, or just paying close attention to these developments, have decided that it is better to commit to accessibility now than to engage in a protracted and expensive legal battle. Moreover, as many companies at the conference have recognized, building accessibility into any refreshes, redesigns, or new rollouts of websites or mobile apps makes sense over increased expense of remediating those same sites later, especially if remediation is done in response to legal action.
The conference’s legal update session drove these points home. Accessibility civil rights attorneys Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian emphasized their position that Title III of ADA does cover websites, and gave a year-in-review report of digital accessibility legal developments in the following industries:…
Continue Reading Accessible Websites and Mobile Apps: Hot Topics at CSUN’s International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference
A law firm that filed more than 100 class actions from early 2012 through 2013 is scratching that ADA itch again with new Title III class suits. Since January of this year, the firm filed seven new lawsuits on behalf of one plaintiff. Each lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ bank branches,…
They’re here and they’re not going away. Six weeks ago we blogged about AXS Map. Now comes AbleRoad, a much more comprehensive customer review website/mobile app that allows individuals to post online reviews of a business’s accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
AbleRoad, which worked with Yelp.com to allow both Yelp …
By Minh N. Vu
Similar to Trip Advisor and Yelp, AXS Map is a new customer review website/mobile app that allows people to review businesses on their accessibility to people with disabilities. Every business that opens its doors to the public can be reviewed. Hotels, restaurants, retailers, gyms: You name it – it’s on AXS …