Yes, there are several car dealerships on the east coast being sued because their websites are a violation of the American with Disabilities Act. You are reading this correctly and this issue can spread very quickly to other industries and other states. Here are the facts of this case but understand, this is an issue that can easily spread to other industries.
The basis of the lawsuit is the dealership operated its business in a manner and way that effectively excludes individuals who are visually impaired from access to the dealership’s business. In other words, the consumer in question was not able to visually see the vehicles offered by the dealership. This included color, features, pricing, make and model. The plaintiff’s argument is that the business did not have a website compatible with “Open Access” which permitted Open Access members to be able to “view” its website. Businesses, to be compatible, need to have “screen reader software” which permits the visually impaired to be able to obtain the information (products & services) offered by the business.
My research on this issue is that the website has to be built on an HTML system (I am not an IT person) which then permits the visually impaired consumer’s “Screen Reader” software to access the website. However, there is a secondary issue. The website must have text that is readable. A picture of a car, as an example, cannot be “read.” The Screen Reader must be able to read words describing the car, the price, the features, the colors, the product or services. It really is a two-step process of sorts.
The other specific allegations listed in the complaint are as follows:
- The website is not designed with consideration for “Universal” design so the visually impaired individuals who use screen reader software can access the website;
- Defendant’s website does not have the sign of website accessibility;
- Defendant has not provided any auxiliary aid or service which would assist plaintiff;
- Defendant has not initiated an ADA policy for effective communication to ensure full and equal use of their business by individuals with disabilities;
- Defendant had not designed an employee as an “Accessibility Coordinator” to ensure full and equal use of its electronic documents and website by individuals with disabilities;
- Defendant has not created and instituted a “Specialized Customer Assistance Line,” nor service or email contact mode for customer assistance for the visually impaired;
- Defendant has not offered any form of electronic documents in an accessible format for blind or visually impaired individuals.
Businesses that are dealing directly with the public offering their products and services to the general public need to take a close look at their websites to insure they are in compliance with the ADA requirements for the visually impaired. Another thought. As a business do you offer online employment applications? Could the issue presented above spread this far? Who knows!
Note: This is not an “employment” related article. It is a consumer/business offering and any assistance requested will be under James W. Potts, LLC. This includes writing policies & procedures and Americans with Disabilities (ADA) training only. If you desire assistance email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 626-396-1070.