Have you ever considered how blind individuals navigate through the Internet? Although, it is not usually something that you just ponder on while eating your afternoon lunch, it is something to wonder about. Most commonly, they use the traditional text-to-speech software. These screen readers browse the website’s HTML to then convert it into sounds. Another example of assistive technology for the visually impaired is a refreshable braille display. The displays consist of raised dots to transport the websites text to the fingertips of the visitor.
Recently, a woman who is legally blind from Manhattan came forward claiming that there are websites which are discriminatory to the visually impaired. Maria Mendizabal is filing more than thirty individual lawsuits against companies known globally such as Nike, Barney’s, and Donna Karan. Her suit reads, “Useless websites are designed to be read by screen-reading software, blind and visually-impaired persons are unable to fully access websites, and the information, Products, and services contained thereon,” which is filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
However, Mendizabal is not the only one taking action due to her feeling of inequality. Victor Lopez has also filed over twenty lawsuit against large companies such as Bergdorf Goodman, Swarovski, and Neiman Marcus. Lopez says that he has been, “denied the full use and enjoyment of goods and services,” when speaking to JD Journal. It has been said that Lopez’s along with Mendizabal cases are among hundreds of similar lawsuits in the Manhattan federal court.
There are instances where companies and plaintiffs have settled for between $50,000 and $75,000, and the New York Post has agreed that these are “cookie-cutter complaints.” Most companies are working towards making their websites blind-friendly in order to be all-inclusive and avoid future suits. The results from these cases have not been released, however, companies along with people who were unaware of this issue, have now become more in tune.
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