Brian C. Hey

Brian C. Hey Partner

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Visually Impaired Sue New York Wineries over Website Accessibility

More than a dozen wineries have been sued in federal court over allegations that their websites are not accessible to the visually impaired in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The plaintiff in these lawsuits is visually-impaired and utilizes screen-reading software to access website content.  However, screen-reading software only functions properly if the website contains specific screen-reading compatible features such as alternatives text for images and videos.

In the lawsuits, the plaintiff alleges that the ADA requires the New York wineries to incorporate screen-reading features so the visually-impaired can access wine club membership instructions, make reservations, access the wineries’ locations, and determine the hours of operation.  Essentially, the plaintiff alleges that the wineries failure to incorporate screen-reading features violates the ADA.  Plaintiff is seeking damages and injunctive relief requiring the wineries to make their websites compliant with the ADA.

This recent trend was discussed at length during McMahon Berger’s seminar held on October 25, 2018.  During the seminar that discussed complexed ADA issues, McMahon Berger recommended that businesses take the following actions to avoid similar website accessibility litigation:

  • Communicate with the third-party vendor who built the website and determine whether the vendor will verify the website is fully accessible to individual with disabilities in accordance with state and federal law.
  • Hire a consultant if the vendor does not verify the website is fully accessible.
  • Determine the cost to implement version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for the website, which is considered the unofficial golden standard for ADA compliance and is utilized by most federal government agency websites.
  • Include a statement that disabled individuals can contact the company for assistance with any accessibility issues.
  • Work directly with visually-impaired customers when designing and implementing website accessibility.

The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

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