Cricket Wireless is facing a proposed civil rights class action lawsuit in Florida federal court over allegations its website discriminates against blind and visually impaired users and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Plaintiff Andres Gomez, who is legally blind, relies on the assistance of screen-reading technology when browsing the internet. However, Gomez claims that despite multiple attempts to navigate Cricket Wireless’ website, he has been met with access barriers preventing him from previewing a cell phone and cell phone plan he hoped to purchase later at a local store. Additionally, the plaintiff desired to obtain coupons and learn of deals and promotions applicable to the local Cricket store.
“But due to the widespread accessibility barriers on Cricketwireless.com website, Plaintiff has been denied the full enjoyment of the facilities, goods, and services of Cricketwireless.com, as well as to the facilities, goods, and services of Defendant’s stores,” the complaint states.
According to Gomez, these access barriers include the omission of an ADA statement, an ADA button to adjust the website format to one that is fully readable through screen reading software, and a chat handler that may not be accessible to blind or visually impaired users. Gomez further contends that Cricket Wireless’ website has no way to skip over repetitive lists of links which create a “frustrating and inefficient web experience.”
Many blind and visually impair persons use screen reading software in everyday activities such as shopping, conducting business, and banking. For screen reading software to function as designed, the information on the website must be capable of being rendered into text. If the website is not capable of this, then blind or visually impaired users cannot access the same content available to sighted users.
In fact, the ADA specifically provides, “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis on disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person…who operates a place of public accommodation.”
The Cricket Wireless disability class action lawsuit is seeking to certify a nationwide class of “all legally blind individuals in the United States who have attempted to access Cricketwireless.com and as a result have been denied access to the enjoyment of goods and services offered by Defendant’s locations during the relevant statutory period.” Gomez is also seeking certification for a Florida subclass as well as a permanent injunction requiring Cricket Wireless to make its website and corporate policies ADA compliant.
Cricket Wireless is not the only company to come under fire recently for allegedly failing to maintain an ADA compliant website. Online streaming giant Hulu was hit with an ADA discrimination class action lawsuit in November, claiming they fail to provide audio description on all its streaming video content, essentially excluding blind and visually impaired people from its services.
Gomez and the proposed class are represented by Pamela E. Chavez and Jessica L. Kerr of The Advocacy Group PA.
The Cricket Wireless Disability Class Action Lawsuit is Andres Gomez et al. v. Cricket Wireless et al., Case No. 1:17-cv-24299-KMM, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.