2022 Digital Accessibility Lawsuit Mid-Year Update

Gavel on a keyboard, symbolizing digital accessibility lawsuits.

While it’s only halfway through 2022, nearly a thousand digital accessibility lawsuits have already been filed by plaintiffs who were unable to find products, services, or information on defendants’ websites. Over a thousand federal digital accessibility lawsuits have been filed in 2022 so far under the ADA. That number balloons to over 1700 when you include state lawsuits like California’s Unruh Act. Digital accessibility lawsuits are trending up, as they have done in recent years. Experts predict cases may top 4400 by the end of the year.

 

Notable Cases

A number of class-action lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs alleging that they cannot access the information, products, and services, offered on defendants’ websites. 

 

Robles v. Domino’s Pizza 

The Domino case first went to trial more than six years ago. After going through “every level of the judicial system,” parties finally settled the case on June 6, 2022. Terms of the resolution are unknown.

 

Loadholt v. HSN, Inc.

More recently, Plaintiff Christopher Loadholt has filed a class-action lawsuit for himself and other similarly situated individuals, claiming the Home Shopping Network (HSN) violates both the ADA and the New York City Human Rights Law. Loadholt says he is unable to use the HSN website because it was not designed to be accessible for assistive technology users. Loadholt uses a screen reader to navigate websites and other digital content because he is blind. He alleges that the HSN website failed to label titles properly, includes broken links, and uses vague headings, among other things. According to the lawsuit, “These access barriers effectively denied Plaintiff the ability to use and enjoy Defendant’s website the same way sighted individuals do.” Loadholt seeks declaratory and injunctive relief in addition to compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages for himself and all Class Members.

 

Brown v. Grocery Delivery E-Services USA, Inc. (HelloFresh)

Plaintiff Lamar Brown alleges that the HelloFresh website (Grocery Delivery E-Services USA, Inc) fails to provide an accessible digital shopping experience for people who use screen reading software. In doing so, he claims HelloFresh violates the ADA, the New York State Human Rights Law, New York State Civil Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. The lawsuit claims, “The access barriers make it impossible for blind and visually impaired users to even complete a transaction on the website.” 

 

Brown v. Marriott International, Inc.

Plaintiff Lamar Brown also filed a similar lawsuit against Marriott International, also claiming that their website provides an “exclusively visual interface.” The lawsuit states, “Marriott International excludes the blind and visually impaired from the full and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of the common marketplace and daily living.”

 

Dawkins v. Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, LLC

Plaintiff Elbert Dawkins uses a screen reader to navigate and use websites because he is blind. He was unable to identify and order products for sale on the Mrs. Fields website because he claims the website was not “designed to be compatible” with his screen reader software. According to the class-action lawsuit, “Many features on the Website also fail to Add a label element or title attribute for each field. This is a problem for the visually impaired because the screen reader fails to communicate the purpose of the page element.”

 

Vergara v Kohl’s, Inc.

Plaintiff Pedro Vergara is blind and was unable to shop or complete purchases through Kohls.com starting in January 2022 because their site was not accessible to assistive technology users. According to the lawsuit, Kohl’s website contained inaccessible buttons and links that had either been mislabeled or not labeled at all. Among the inaccessible features were buttons that were necessary to complete a purchase such as the search button, shopping cart icon, item prices, and product details.

 

Increased accessibility enforcement

DoJ Guidance 

The pace at which digital accessibility lawsuits are filed shows no sign of slowing down, especially since the DoJ recently issued guidance reaffirming its opinion that websites should be considered places of public accommodation. The guidance also expressed the DoJ’s increased initiatives to enforce digital accessibility requirements.

 

OCR 

Schools, libraries, and other federally-funded agencies will also feel the pressure to create accessible digital resources as the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has announced its plan to conduct 100 new compliance reviews. Organizations must make their digital resources, including PDFs, compliant with Section 504, Section 508, and Title II of the ADA. To prepare, schools and others can watch videos created by the Department of Education to guide accessibility initiatives.

 

Equidox can help

You need more than accessible web pages to ensure your digital resources comply with the ADA and other digital accessibility regulations and avoid digital accessibility lawsuits. The files stored on your website, like PDFs, also need to be accessible. Equidox can help. Equidox offers easy-to-use PDF accessibility software that anyone can quickly learn. We also offer professional remediation services for projects you would rather outsource. 

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Nina Overdorff

Nina comes to Onix with years of sales and marketing experience from a variety of industries, and holds a BS in Language Arts Education. Nina has a passion for words, storytelling, and information, which she believes everyone should have access to regardless of ability. After spending time as a teacher with a blind student, she became much more aware of the limitations and abilities of web accessibility, and how essential it is to those experiencing disabilities. “Being able to access information equally ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity for education, employment, and success in life.”

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