Cricket Wireless Class Action Says Website Isn’t ADA Compliant

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.

Hulu Class Action Says Video-Streaming Services Not Accessible to Blind Users

Hulu has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit alleging the company excludes blind and visually impaired people from its online streaming services.

A coalition of advocacy groups and blind or visually impaired individuals filed the discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act on Nov. 20 in Massachusetts federal court, specifically stating that Hulu’s exclusion of blind individuals from its online video-streaming services “significantly impairs the blind community’s access not only to entertainment but to the cultural capital that media consumption confers.”

One of the largest online-streaming services in the country, Hulu offers thousands of shows and movies, including original content, to most customers at the click of a mouse. However, Plaintiffs American Council of the Blind (ACB), Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB), Brian Charlson, and Kim Charlson collectively allege that the company fails to provide audio description – a separate audio track that blind people need in order to access the exclusively visual content of a show or movie – on any content.

Additionally, Hulu fails to make its website and software applications accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals using screen readers – technology that converts the visually displayed content on the screen into audible, synthesized speech or outputs that information on a digital braille display.

“Inaccessible features and screen-reader barriers such as unlabeled and mislabeled elements and inconsistent navigation features on Hulu’s website and applications limit blind and visually impaired individuals’ ability to use Hulu’s video-streaming services.”

The Hulu Disability Access class action lawsuit further points out that Hulu has the technological capability to provide audio description to blind and visually impaired customers but chooses not to provide it, noting that its primary competitor, Netflix, already includes audio description for much of its content.

By failing to make their online-video streaming accessible to blind persons, Hulu is violating basic equal access to services under both state and federal law and is not compliant with the ADA, the lawsuit contends.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act states ADA states that “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.”

ACB, BSCB, and the Charlsons have asked for a court order that would require Hulu to take steps to provide audio description on all of its streaming video content, to market this availability, and to make its website completely accessible to people with vision disabilities.

The plaintiffs seek to represent a nationwide Class of legally blind individuals who have been deterred from using Hulu’s services as a result of its failure to provide audio description and maintain an accessible website. The class action lawsuit also requests monetary damages, including courts costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Caitlin Parton and Stanley Eichner of the Disability Law Center Inc. and Rebecca Williford, Sidney Wolinsky, and Meredith Weaver of Disability Rights Advocates.

The Hulu Disability Access Class Action Lawsuit is American Council of the Blind et al, v. Hulu LLC, Case No. 1:17-cv-12285, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.