Supreme Court allows blind people to sue retailers if their websites are not accessible

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by R0binHood, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

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    https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-10-07/blind-person-dominos-ada-supreme-court-disabled

    How many of the forum platforms are completely ADA accessible I wonder?

    I'm all for accessibility and I think there should be a certain amount of accountability, but I fear a decision like this will open the floodgates for frivolous law suits against smaller businesses and websites and online business owners.
     
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  2. Elliot02

    Elliot02 Participant

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    A website is inheritance not blind-user friendly. This whole thing seems crazy.
     
  3. TheChiro

    TheChiro Devotee

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    You mean more frivolous than this bs?
     
  4. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

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    The dominoes case actually has some merit. The prices online or in the app are cheaper than when calling by phone and most of the online vouchers can't be applied verbally by phone due to the way the system works even if the managers wanted to, which ends up being discriminatory if the website or app isn't usable by that customer.
     
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  5. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    It's about time the Internet was given a kick up the backside as far as the visually impaired are concerned. They have as much entitlement as anyone else and the technology to make it accessible to them already exists.

    I don't know much about the judgement but on the surface it seems it could ultimately benefit a large group of people.
     
  6. Penguin

    Penguin Aspirant

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    Guess those companies didn't see this one coming... sorry, I'll show myself out ;)
     
  7. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    This is a no-brainer.

    We expect businesses to be wheelchair accessible and there would be a huge outcry if a store posted a sign reading "No Muslims" or "No Women". Yet it's somehow crazy or frivolous for a huge part of the internet to effectively prohibit visually impaired users.

    Maybe I'm wrong and blind people have no business being on the internet anyway. So we should just all go back to whingeing about how forums need to change so we can more easily access them from our mobile phones.
     
  8. Wes of StarArmy

    Wes of StarArmy Adherent

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    Maybe we can put something on our sites that says:

    "Blind and Low Vision Users - at MySite.com we strive to ensure accessibility for all users. If you discover accessibility problems such as missing ALT text or navigation problems, please provide our accessibility contact by email with a brief description of the issue and the URL where the problem was encountered and we will attempt to rectify the issue in 24-48 hours and get back to you."

    Basically this would be a way to give users an obvious way to swiftly address issues they find before they turn into a big deal.
     
  9. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

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    It's not crazy or frivolous to expect a certain level of compatibility, and to strive for the best accessibility possible, wherever possible. I don't think anyone disagrees with the principle of striving to ensure their sites and businesses are accessible. The problem arises when precedent is set that it's possible to sue a business based on a requirement in the ADA.

    It's a long standing existing problem that there are litigious trolls out there, similar to patent trolls, that go after small businesses in particular to try and extract money from them because they're not fully ADA compliant.

    If these ends up propagating to websites, what's going to happen to smaller companies that don't have the budget to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on their website to ensure it's specked out to the highest degree of compliance? What happens to companies that want to push the boundaries of web technologies or be particularly creative with the design and UI?

    If companies are stifled from doing this because they're worried someone might sue them for not being 100% compliant, then we'll all end up stuck on cookie cutter Wordpress and Squarespace and Shopify sites because they're the only companies that are going to invest the resources in ensuring their sites are compliant while being affordable to smaller businesses.

    Dominoes screwed themselves and everyone else over on this accessibility issue because it was all about the ability to place an order. They already had a telephone system for accepting orders, a perfectly accessible way for a blind person to patronise their business, but they discriminated against them by not giving them the same deal as those using the website.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  10. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

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    What's funny about this comment is that Apple and iOS are industry leading in mobile phone and computing accessibility enabling many users with disabilities to compute and use the internet and software/apps through mobile devices better than ever before, and frequently better than their desktop counterparts.

    They have excellent text to speech, voice dictation, magnifying tools, font controls, accessible readable colour schemes, colour filtering, direct braille entry without the use of a braille display, use of a braille display for both input and output and more.

    Software in every other industry has blazed ahead on mobile because it's often very well executed and it can be done in an accessible way. That's part of the source of frustration for those that call for better forum mobile compatibility. It's possible to do and it can be a great experience.

    https://www.apple.com/uk/accessibility/

    https://www.apple.com/uk/accessibility/iphone/

    https://www.apple.com/uk/accessibility/iphone/vision/

    Voice Over
    Voice Control Text
    Voice Control App/Switch Control
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  11. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    The easiest way to avoid being sued is to be compliant with the law. What you're voicing are common complaints from those who don't understand what making websites accessible entails. There doesn't need to be any compromise in design. And sure, it's always way more expensive to retrofit accessibility than build it in from the beginning, but that's the same with anything.

    Yes, and that would be a great benefit, if only the sites people try to visit were accessible. All the cool do-dads in the world won't make it easier to use a site that isn't accessible. Part of every web design course should be to spend a day sitting with a visually impaired user, followed by a day on the internet with no monitor. The level of appreciation for accessibility online would be greatly enhanced.
     
  12. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

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    Yeah, I don't disagree with where you're coming from, in a perfect world all sites would be fully accessible. I'm just highlighting the fact that if this issues isn't handled correctly it could up negatively impacting a large number of businesses who may already be doing their best, but may not be able to comply depending on the technology they're using. If it's structured in such a way that trolls are able to file frivolous lawsuits against sites, as they have done when it comes to physical premises.

    Most of these cases are against good, well meaning business owners, but they didn't execute things perfectly and so they are then taken advantage of by teams of lawyers resulting in lots of lost money over claims they should never have been filed in the first place.

    These business owners getting sued by the trolls aren't wilfully flaunting the act because they don't care, they're often very willing and trying to comply, but haven't complied completely for one reason or another, sometimes due to restrictions they don't have much control over which leaves them exposed to abuse of the law.

    I used to live in a residential home as a kid as my mother ran one. It was a small one with only about 12 beds. The health and safety regulations and requirements ended up getting completely out of control. They wanted her to install a ludicrously expensive dedicated lift system among countless other things that were completely unnecessary to a smaller home like hers, when the stair lift and other systems she had in place worked perfectly well and there were no complaints from staff or residents.

    All these demands and new regulations kept pouring in over the years and eventually it became too much for a small business like hers to handle. She had to close up shop. Her local inspector and the family of the residents begged her not to close as she ran one of the cleanest and well regarded residential homes in the county. And it was, I lived there every day, it didn't reek of piss like most other residential homes you go to and it was beautifully well kept and the residents well cared for. But slowly these regulations choked this small business who was doing everything they could to comply and was running a great business to the best of their ability.


    So when I see stuff like this it makes me so frustrated and disgusted that Dominoes were so belligerent in their case. In their case they were having a real impact on their visually impaired users on their website. I obviously think they should still fix it and make it accessible, but they could have at least let them order by phone for the same price for an instant solution to the situation while they worked on it or made an alternative accessible version.

    Hopefully the net result will be beneficial and more sites will take it seriously, I just have a feeling the trolls may end up out in force with this one to abuse it if we're not careful.
     
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  13. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    Screen readers existed for quite a while, web services and software providers just need to follow certain compatibility criterias. Those technologies dont serve only users with poor or lost sight and exist in many forms.

    In the context of retail, poorsighted readers' QOL would significantly improve if they can shop online and get their goods shipped home instead of stumbling around in crowded streets and limited in their ability to shop in a physical store. It might not be a huge audience but it's worth going the extra mile since it wouldnt degrade anyone else's experience.
     
  14. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    Certainly, when you create a system that pays people for spurious or frivolous lawsuits, you will get those who seek to benefit from the practice. Sadly, that has become part of the price of doing business and generated a lot of money for the insurance industry (As a consultant, I paid horrendous amounts every year for both liability and error & omissions insurance).

    That said, a great deal of the internet is still out of reach for visually impaired users, even though most states, provinces, and countries have laws requiring equal access to services for disabled persons. There are lots of reasons for this, including lack of knowledge, penny-pinching, and laziness. If nothing else, publicity around lawsuits like this may push more businesses to become accessible. Blind people have money too and are more than willing to spend it online.
     
  15. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    Absolutely. Reading this certainly made me think about how accessible my sites are to the visually impaired.
     
  16. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

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    it seems some vultures are already starting to pounce, will be interesting to see what comes of some of this initial wave of litigation



    From the comments:

     
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  17. \o/

    \o/ an oddity

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    Good.

    Because most of these "modern" websites which require users to allow executing arbitrary JavaScripts (-> security!) are not accessible because of that.

    Finally there is a reason to sue this cancer off the web.
     
  18. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

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    Good that small businesses will get sued?
     
  19. \o/

    \o/ an oddity

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    Yup.

    There is no legal obligation to have a non-accessible website. If you think that you need one anyway (because you are a business or whatever), make sure that you know what you're doing. If you don't, hire someone who knows it instead.

    My security is more important than a company's understanding of good web design.
     
  20. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

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    There are millions of small mom and pop businesses, small churches, non-profits and so forth with a basic web site who don't even know such things even exist and what to look for, yet you're all for them getting sued. It's one thing to have lofty principles, but the statistical fact is many laws for people with disabilities have actually in practice resulted in the opposite happening.

    For example, since the passage of the ADA, a smaller percentage of disabled people have been hired. In 1988, 50% of people with disabilities were employed. It's fallen steadily since then and is now at 19%. Why? Because businesses are so afraid of being sued that they avoid hiring them. I saw this first hand with my father who was blind. Now imagine what's going to happen if small businesses start getting sued left and right for accessibility issues on web site. The likely outcome is many businesses with forego with having a web site altogether.

    Follow the money, this was a money grab, pure and simple, for the person who sued Dominos. He could have simply picked up the phone, and the local shop would almost certainly have been happy to take his order and apply the online discount.

     
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