Payless ShoeSource Legally-Blind Use of Website ADA Class Action

Does a person with a disability have equal access to a bricks-and-mortar store if he can’t access its website to find out hours of operation or to order goods for pickup? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses take steps so that people with certain disabilities can make equal use of public accommodations. But the complaint for this class action alleges that Payless ShoeSource, Inc. maintains a website that has barriers to use by blind and visually-impaired people, thus limiting their access to its goods and services.

The Nationwide Class for this action is all legally blind individuals in the US who have tried to access the Payless website and have been denied equal enjoyment of the goods and services offered in Payless’s physical locations during the relevant statutory period. The complaint also defines New York State and New York City Subclasses.

The number of people with vision difficulties in the US is considerable. The 2010 US Census Bureau finds 8.1 million who are visually-impaired, including 2 million who are legally qualify as blind. The legal definition of blindness is a visual acuity equal to or less than 20 x 200.

Use of the Internet has become a necessity for most people, for everything from information on hours of operation to job hunting to purchases. The need may be even more acute for people who can’t, say, drive themselves to a store. 

Screen readers allow visually-impaired people to use the Internet, as long as websites are planned to make their use possible. 

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international standards organization, has published a 2.0 version of its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for making websites accessible to the blind and visually-impaired. They require, for example, that a text equivalent be provided for every non-text element, such as images.

The Payless website shows store locations and hours and allows consumers to browse or buy products online, for pickup or delivery. The complaint claims that the Payless stores are public accommodations and that the website should also offer all consumers equal access to the company’s goods and services. 

Unfortunately, plaintiff Henry Tucker was unable to use the Payless website. Tucker is legally blind but used to navigating websites with the popular JAWS screen reader. But the Payless website had a number of barriers to use with screen readers:

  • No alternative text or text equivalent for images. 
  • Empty links that contained no text.
  • Redundant links, which require additional navigation and repetition.
  • Linked images without alternative text.

The complaint alleges that Payless has violated the ADA as well as the New York Human Rights Law and New York Civil Rights Law.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Civil Rights

Most Recent Case Event

Payless ShoeSource Legally-Blind Use of Website ADA Complaint

November 14, 2018

Does a person with a disability have equal access to a bricks-and-mortar store if he can’t access its website to find out hours of operation or to order goods for pickup? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses take steps so that people with certain disabilities can make equal use of public accommodations. But the complaint for this class action alleges that Payless ShoeSource, Inc. maintains a website that has barriers to use by blind and visually-impaired people, thus limiting their access to its goods and services.

payless_shoes_ada_complaint.pdf

Case Event History

Payless ShoeSource Legally-Blind Use of Website ADA Complaint

November 14, 2018

Does a person with a disability have equal access to a bricks-and-mortar store if he can’t access its website to find out hours of operation or to order goods for pickup? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses take steps so that people with certain disabilities can make equal use of public accommodations. But the complaint for this class action alleges that Payless ShoeSource, Inc. maintains a website that has barriers to use by blind and visually-impaired people, thus limiting their access to its goods and services.

payless_shoes_ada_complaint.pdf
Tags: Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights, Legally Blind