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Blind Customer Sues Toys “R” Us over Their Website

Image of a gavelBlind patron, Michelle Sipe has filed a lawsuit against toy store giant Toys “R” Us. Sipe claims she could not access the toy company’s website because it is not accessible to visually impaired and blind individuals, violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, Toys “R” Us is facing charges for unauthorized collection, tracking, and sharing of Sipe’s personal information. Sipe is seeking a permanent injunction requiring the company to update policies, make their website accessible, and purge information in addition to settlement fees.

Parties

Plaintiff – Michelle Sipe is a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She is legally blind and a member of a protected class under the ADA. Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kilpela LLP will represent Michelle Sipe.

Defendant – Toys “R” Us-Delaware, Inc. is a Delaware-based corporation. The defendant owns, operates, and maintains retail brick-and-mortar stores across the United States, including within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The defendant’s retail stores offer goods and services to the public via both its physical stores as well as its multiple websites.

Claims

  • Despite several attempts to use and navigate Toys “R” Us website, Sipe was denied full enjoyment and use of the goods, services, and facilities as a result of access barriers.
  • Sipe could not independently shop or purchase products on the company’s website.
  • Sipe was not provided services and/or has been provided services that are inferior to the services provided to non-disabled customers.
  • Unless Toys “R” Us is required to eliminate access barriers and change policies, the company’s websites will continue to be inaccessible to blind individuals.
  • The Toys “R” Us websites have never been accessible, and the company does not have corporate policies, practices, or procedures that ensure its websites are accessible.
  • Access barriers at www.toysrus.com and the company’s other websites include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Lack of alternative text or a text equivalent;
    • Redundant links;
    • No-script elements; and
    • Popover screen that is superimposed on the web page when an individual first visits a website.
  • Toys “R” Us gained unauthorized use of Sipe’s personal information and computer.
  • Toys “R” Us shared personal information to third parties without authorization.
  • Sipe was harmed in the alteration and use of personal property for purposes she did not authorize.
  • Toys “R” Us was in violation of Title III of the ADA.

Plaintiff seeks:

  • A declaration that Toys “R” Us was in violation of Title III of the ADA and did not take necessary actions to ensure that its website was fully accessible to, and independently usable by, blind individuals
  • Defendant will retain a mutually agreed upon consultant who shall assist in the following:
    • Improving the accessibility of its websites so that the company is in compliance with version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG);
    • Ensuring employees involved in website content and development be provided web accessibility training;
    • Performing automated accessibility audits to evaluate the state of accessibility and compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA on a consistent basis;
    • Performing usability testing on a periodic basis with testing performed by individuals with various disabilities; and
    • Creating an accessibility policy that will be posted on the websites as well as a toll-free phone number and e-mail address to report accessibility-related issues.
  • A permanent injunction directing Toys “R” Us to take all necessary measures to bring their websites into compliance with ADA requirements so that toysrus.com is independently usable and accessible to blind individuals
  • The court shall retain jurisdiction for a set period of time to ensure Toys “R” Us has adopted and is following an institutional policy that will, in fact, cause the defendant to remain in full compliance with the law.
  • Equitable relief consisting of the defendant’s purging of any information from and about the plaintiff that personally identifies her or that has been or can be used to identify, recognize, locate, or communicate with her or any device
  • Payment of costs of suit
  • Payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees
  • The provision of whatever other relief the court deems just, equitable, and appropriate

Takeaway

Web accessibility lawsuits, like the one Toys “R” Us is facing, are becoming all too common. Toys “R” Us is a large company with high-quality employees, executives, and significant resources. It is surprising that they do not have a web accessibility policy in place. Unfortunately, most companies do not have accessible websites or plans to make their websites accessible, even when guidelines and tools are easily available. Business owners work hard every day, expending money and resources on trying to bring customers to their websites instead of looking internally at access barriers that are literally blocking users from their websites. If you are a business owner, do yourself a favor by visiting auditgenie.com and testing the accessibility of your website. Having an accessible website will open the doors to new customers and help you to avoid an accessibility lawsuit. If you have any question concerning this case or the accessibility of your website, contact us at sales@auditgenie.com.

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