Apple Sued Over Claims Website is Inaccessible to Visually Impaired Users

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Apple Sued Over Claims Website is Inaccessible to Visually Impaired Users

By Malcolm Owen

Apple Insider, , August 20, 2018

Apple has become the target of a new lawsuit, one that claims the iPhone
producer’s website is violating
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not being fully accessible to
blind or visually-impaired
consumers, due to the way the website itself is coded.

Filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York on
Sunday, the complaint from the
plaintiff Himelda Mendez is said to be filed on behalf of other users in a
similar accessibility situation.
Apple is the sole defendant in the lawsuit.

According to the filing, Mendez is described as a “visually impaired and
legally blind person” who uses
screen-reading software to access the internet. The software is able to
either read out information seen
on the screen or outputs it to a refreshable Braille display, and typically
relies on the website being
constructed in ways that it can read the contents.

In the case of a website that isn’t produced in this way, such as one that
doesn’t follow the Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium, the readers may
be unable to read
content that could be useful for the user, or read it in an unintentional
way that would be difficult to

Mendez, said to be a proficient user of the Jobs Access With Speech (JAWS)
screen reading program,
visited the Apple website earlier this month but encountered “multiple
access barriers” that denied “full
and equal access to the facilities, goods, and services offered to the
public,” such as being able to
browse and purchase products, make service appointments, or learn of the
facilities available in Apple
Stores in New York, the city where Mendez is resident.

The filing provides a long list of issues with the website that it believes
needs fixing, in order to comply
with the ADA, in relation to screen readers. The list includes the lack of
alternative text for graphics,
empty links containing no text, redundant links, and linked images missing
alternative text.

It is asserted these issues caused a denial of “full and equal access” to
the plaintiff, deterring future use
of the site in the process. If it were fully accessible, the filing believes
those using screen-reading
software would be able to independently navigate the site and perform the
same transactions as those
with sight.

It is also alleged the lack of compliance with WCAG 2.0 guidelines means
Apple has “engaged in acts of
intentional discrimination,” under the belief the site was not produced with
visually-impaired individuals
in mind, nor has it been corrected.

The suit demands a permanent injunction requiring Apple to retain a
qualified consultant to help the
company comply with WCAG 2.0 guidelines for the site, including training its
web developers on
accessibility compliance, regularly checking the site’s compliance, regular
testing by blind and visually-
impaired users, and the development of an accessibility policy posted on all
of its websites. Also sought
are “compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by proof, including
all applicable statutory
and punitive damages and fines,” plus legal fees incurred by the filer.

AppleInsider has asked Apple for comment, and will provide an update if
there is a response.

Apple prides itself on including accessibility features in its products,
highlighting them in marking Global
Accessibility Awareness Day each year.
The company has also worked with other companies and organizations in
producing accessibility aids,
including developing a hearing implant sound processor with Cochlear, and
participating in the USB
Implementers Forum to produce a new interface standard for braille displays.

For more details on the case visit the link below.

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