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Did Beyonce's Production Company Discriminate Against the Visually Impaired?

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By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on January 09, 2019 5:56 AM

Beyoncé's website production company, Parkwood, has been hit with a class action lawsuit claiming that Beyoncé.com's interface is inaccessible to visually impaired users, and thus in violation of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). 

According to the filing, visually impaired individuals have a strong affinity for music, maybe stronger than others due to their impaired sense, and therefore this inflicts a unique kind of harm.

Beyoncé.com Features Exclusive Content

Beyoncé.com is not your average website, since Beyoncé is not your average musician. The site features merchandise, videos, music, and many exclusive offerings that can't be gotten anywhere else, including her last two visual albums, such as Lemonade. The plaintiff in the suit claims she discovered the accessibility issue when trying to buy a Holidayoncé Embroidered Pullover Hoodie, which can only be purchased on the website.

"The one and only form of entertainment that truly presents an even playing field between the visually impaired and the sighted is the joy of music," writes attorney Dan Shaked in the complaint. "Plaintiff dreams of attending a Beyoncé concert and listening to her music in a live setting. However, when she browsed the Beyoncé.com website, she encountered numerous barriers which limited her accessibility to the goods and services offered on the website."

ADA Website Compliance

According to the ADA, any business that is considered a "place of public accommodation" is required to provide equal access to the disabled. For visually impaired users, this means a website should have:

  • Resizable text with a high contrast mode;
  • Photos with alt-text coding behind the HTML mark-up so that screen-reading software can speak the alternative text associated with the visual picture;
  • Videos should include audio descriptions; and
  • Drop-down menus should be accessible with cursor keys instead of just the mouse.

Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to force Parkwood to redesign the site to incorporate these changes so that impaired users can use the site independently. The suit is most interested in seeking improvement to the user experience when using text-to-speech software.

If you have a legitimate complaint about a business failing to comply with the ADA, contact a consumer protection attorney.

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