Jose Del-Orden, a blind citizen of New York, has filed a class action lawsuit against shoe giant, Reebok, for denying blind individuals equal access to goods and services on its website. Reebok.com provides products, price discounts, employment opportunities, and other services to the public. However, the Reebok website is not designed for blind users. The lawsuit contends Reebok.com contains thousands of access barriers that make the site difficult and/or impossible for blind people to navigate, or even complete a transaction. This is in the wake of computer technology that has advanced in recent years, allowing blind people to fully and independently access a variety of online services, including shopping.
The civil rights lawsuit asserts that while other major retailers have utilized alternative text, accessible forms, descriptive links, resizable texts and tables, Reebok.com has neglected to incorporate these tools for the blind on its website. This is in violation of basic equal access requirements under state and federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides a mandate for the elimination of discriminatory barriers, including those on websites and other public accommodations that are not accessible to the visually impaired.
Del-Orden attempted to shop on Reebok.com but was prevented from doing so due to the website’s barriers. The suit asserts that Reebok is in violation of the basic equal access requirements. Additionally, New York state law requires places of public accommodation to ensure access to goods, services, and facilities by making reasonable adjustments for persons with disabilities.
The class action lawsuit asserts that while Reebok’s sighted customers can browse and purchase products—and apply for employment with Reebok—online, blind users cannot. Instead, the blind and sight-challenged consumers must rely on sighted companions or even strangers to assist them in navigating the Reebok website. Thus, blind people must disclose personal information, including user names and passwords, contact info, and credit card numbers, to other individuals in order to complete a transaction on Reebok.com.
This case was filed on October, 14, 2015. We will update the status in early 2016.