The beauty product brand Glossier is the latest in a parade of brands who have been sued for accessibility violations on their websites. The visually impaired plaintiff, Kathleen Sypert, claims Glossier violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by failing to have proper screen reading software on their website. Lawsuits over web accessibility have been increasing.
The ADA is a civil rights law that encourages equal opportunity for all people with disabilities. The law currently applies to physical, brick-and-mortar storefront accessibility; however, the law has not been amended to directly protect web accessibility. A series of recent lawsuits are seeking to change the scope of this law that was created in 1990 when the internet was just beginning to surface.
Sypert claims that Glossier previously denied her the opportunity to utilize the services offered on the website – services enjoyed by people without disabilities – and that they continued to deny her access to those goods and services on a regular basis.
Other megabrands have had similar lawsuits filed against them including J. Crew, Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani, Perry Ellis, and Versace. Most have settled out of court and have promised to add accessibility to their websites for the visually and hearing impaired.
The attorney in most of these cases, Thomas Bacon, argues that websites are part of the public domain, and everyone, including those with audio and visual impairments, should have access. Bacon reasons that since most of the sites were designed and created after the ADA became law in 1990, there is really no reason for them not to be accessible.
These types of cases are quickly becoming more common. Most of them are occurring in New York City. Attorney Adam Michaels wants that the best way for a brand to prevent such a lawsuit is to proactively conduct an ADA compliance audit of its website.
Michaels also strongly suggested that brands add an accessibility statement pledging commitment to complete accessibility on their website, over the phone, through email, and via online chat.
All of the information above was cited from The Fashion Law’s article “Glossier Added to Long List of Brands Being Sued for Allegedly Violating Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Stay tuned for more on how you can integrate accessibility into your health and beauty website. Lawsuits over web accessibility are not just about adhering to the rules; rather, they are about showing all customers that you care about their experience shopping with your brand.