Complaint alleges DraftKings website is not accessible to blind users

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Robert Jahoda recently filed a lawsuit alleging the DraftKings  online gambling website is not completely compatible with screen readers. While this is a commonly seen lawsuit, it is not surprising. Unfortunately, the needs of blind and visually impaired users when it comes to accessing online content are often overlooked when companies develop websites. Even worse, I personally know web developers who think that they can close their eyes and gain a true insight into the way a blind or visually impaired person surfs the web. What are companies to do with lawsuits like these? are they helpful to online commerce in the long run?

Its the law

Users with disabilities have the same right to use a website or technology as anyone else. A company must make their services available to everyone under the Americans With Disabilities Act signed into law in 1990. For the ADA National Network brief on accessible digital technology:

One of the main issues concerning the ADA and web accessibility is what constitutes “public accommodations.” Title III of the ADA provides regulations for private businesses and other entities to ensure access for people with disabilities within the realm of public accommodations, described as “businesses that are generally open to the public.”2 This phrasing has become central to the understanding of web accessibility within the U.S. Two notable court cases related to this issue include Robles vs. Domino’s Pizza LLC and National Association of the Deaf et al. vs. Netflix, Inc. Both of these cases were ruled in favor of the plaintiffs (i.e. people with disabilities). The rulings detail that companies must provide accessible features in online applications and web-based businesses. Despite the number of web accessibility cases, the Department of Justice has withdrawn potential rule changes to the ADA to provide further regulations on digital access. Businesses can utilize other standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG),3 in order to meet the spirit of the ADA and provide accessible technology to the public.

Under the ADA, a visually impaired person wishing to access digital content has every right to do so. This means that companies who do not have accessible websites must provide them. Until the standards for accessible information delivery are solidified, class action suits such as the one against DraftKings are going to continue. My suggestion to any company facing this sort of litigation not see it as a negative or an inconvenience, but rather as a potential positive impact on your business. 

Big business

According to the CDC, nearly 7 million people in the United States are blind or visually impaired. A company who does not provide accessible web content is alienating these potential customers. Being visually impaired myself, and a screen reader user I appreciate and often offer my loyalty to websites which are fully accessible. Conversely, websites which employ tactics to keep visitors on their page longer by placing popup ads with the close button located in strange or hard to find locations will generally not see my patronage again. 

Big bucks

Companies like DraftKings which can afford to be a primary advertiser for the Super Bowl, and has the advertising budget to be in every television break for the Stanley Cup playoffs can certainly afford to have a person on staff who can properly review their website infrastructure for proper accessibility.  Why not take a different tactic when resolving this issue and employ a visually impaired person to help with this, and give your company a positive PR spin with the blind and visually impaired community? Increasing the number of people who can use your site can only benefit your business, and offset any development costs incurred while implementing accessibility features. 

This sentiment extends to more than DraftKings, any corporation providing content to the public should be aware of the needs of it’s disabled customers, and be proactive about meeting those needs before class action suits start heading your way. 

Resources for this article

If you would like to read more about the class action suit, follow the link below. 

DraftKings complaint alleges website inaccessible to visually impaired, blind

If you would like more information about the ADA Title III and Digital Access, follow the link below.

If you would like more information and statistics about the number of Americans with low vision and blindness, follow the link below

Before you go…

I love to hear from my readers! What do you think? Are these lawsuits frivolous or are they of benefit to the blind and low vision community?  Additionally, if you have questions about this article or any other content on Blind Travels, feel free to drop me a note on my social media links below or right here on blind travels. Follow me and I will happily follow you back.

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