Beyoncé’s company, Parkwood Entertainment, is facing a class action lawsuit which claims that Beyonce.com denies equal access to visually impaired users. The lawsuit—filed yesterday by New York woman Mary Conner, who is blind—argues that the website violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by being “an exclusively visual interface” without any coded alt-text behind the images.
The proposed class includes “all legally blind individuals in the United States who have attempted to access Beyonce.com and as a result have been denied access to the enjoyment of goods and services offered by Beyonce.com, during the relevant statutory period.”
Last year, American Banker reported at least 51 banks have been sued in federal court for operating websites that, consumers with disabilities say, are too difficult or impossible for them to use.
Nearly eight years ago, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the agency charged with writing regulations and enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), began the rulemaking process to establish a standard for website accessibility under the ADA. Subsequently, DOJ has asserted that an accessible website is an existing requirement under of the ADA for businesses, even in the absence of a legal standard defining the technical requirements of an accessible website.
However, under the Trump administration, DOJ has shifted its regulatory priorities regarding website accessibility. On Dec. 26, 2017, DOJ placed its website accessibility rulemaking on the “inactive list” of its Unified Regulatory Agenda, a document that informs the public of planned regulatory actions of the agency. DOJ did not, however, state publicly that it has reversed its position that website accessibility is required under the ADA.