Apple, a company known for innovative design, is currently facing a lawsuit that alleges its website violates accessibility laws.
The lawsuit, which was filed this month at a court in Manhattan, alleges that the Apple website violates a part of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The lawsuit was filed by Himelda Mendez, a visually impaired person who uses a screen reader to translate text online. This means he is able to use the internet effectively. However, he claims that the Apple website coding doesn’t have alt-text attributes, which means there are no text descriptions.
The lawsuit also alleges that the website places redundant links next to each other, and apparently all of the linked images don’t have alt-text tags. This confuses the screen reader, so it is very difficult for visually impaired people to use the website.
This means that lots of people are unable to use the Apple website. In fact, there are over 7 million visually impaired people in the US and over 2 million visually impaired people in the UK, so a significant chunk of Apple users won’t be able use the site.
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Apple has yet to comment on the lawsuit, but if it is proven that the website can’t be used by visually impaired people, it is very likely that they will have to update their website. Thankfully, there are lots of guides to help; the W3C is a website standards company that publishes Web Content Accessibility Guidelines providing information on how to make websites more accessible.
Lawsuits regarding website inaccessibility
This lawsuit is not the first website accessibility lawsuit. In fact, in the last two years, private litigation regarding website inaccessibility has soared. This is fairly problematic, and it has caused over 100 political representatives to write letters to the Attorney General asking for official web accessibility rules.
This prompted US Representative Ted Poe to create HR 620 and the Reform Act of 2017. The bill says that people who are considering litigation have to provide the website owner with a chance to fix the problems before filing a lawsuit.