Angel Rodriguez, a legally blind individual, filed a class-action lawsuit on Thursday against Impossible Foods Inc. alleging that the company has not made its website accessible for blind consumers and is breaching the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the Eastern District of New York. The lawsuit claims that the website’s inaccessibility denies people access to the company’s plant-based meat products.
According to the complaint, Rodriguez uses screen-reading software to gain access to website content using his computer. The plaintiff intended to purchase the Impossible Combo Pack from the website, but encountered access barriers. Rodriguez claimed he made numerous attempts to purchase items, most recently on September 2. He filed the lawsuit based on Impossible Foods’ “failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate their website to be fully accessible to and independently usable by (the) Plaintiff and other blind or visually-impaired persons.”
The complaint cites a 2010 census report’s data stating that 8.1 million people in the United States are visually impaired, 2 million of which are blind. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s actions are denying these visually impaired people equal access to goods and services, including not giving them the ability to purchase products or view employment information online.
The complaint stated, “Impossiblefoods.com contains thousands of access barriers that make it difficult if not impossible for blind and visually-impaired customers to use the website. In fact, the access barriers make it impossible for blind and visually-impaired users to even complete a transaction on the website. Thus, Impossible Foods excludes the blind and visually-impaired from the full and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of the common marketplace and daily living.”
Rodriguez also argued that blind and visually impaired people have an increased need for online services because of challenges they face getting to a physical location to purchase items. He also said the technology to make Impossible Foods’ website accessible is “readily available.” To be accessible, websites need to make the information on the site capable of being rendered into text, which allows screen-reading software to provide audible access.
The lawsuit notes specific sections of the website which are not accessible, including the reCAPTCHA question and the Ask Us Anything link. The website also requires use of a mouse, when visually impaired people often use only the keyboard because it does not require sight. The plaintiff claimed Impossible Foods violated “basic equal access requirements under both state and federal law.”
The plaintiff, represented by Shaked Law Group sought an injunction against the company requiring them to fix the website, a declaration that the defendant must maintain the website in an accessible manner, and compensatory damages for himself and the proposed class of other visually impaired New York residents. He claimed Impossible Foods breached New York state laws and the ADA.