A lawsuit filed on Wednesday in the Southern District of New York asserted that Books Inc. has failed to design, build, and maintain its website, www.booksinc.net, in a manner fully accessible to the plaintiff and other “blind or visually-impaired” people. For the alleged Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violation, the plaintiff sought, among other things, a permanent injunction requiring the independent bookseller to alter its policies and practices to conform with the law.
The plaintiff, Jenisa Angeles, is a New York resident and ADA protected class member, according to the complaint. The plaintiff explained that the blind or visually-impaired use screen-reading software to listen to written website text and descriptions of images. For the software to work, the website “must be capable of being rendered into text,” the filing stated.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff could not fully access Books Inc.’s website due to flaws that inhibited the screen-reading software. In particular, the plaintiff pointed to the website’s lack of “alt. text, which is the invisible code embedded beneath a graphical image,” making it impossible for the plaintiff to distinguish products from one another. In addition, the website allegedly lacks title elements for certain features, and suffers from other deficiencies including that it contains a host of broken links, and its pages contain duplicative title elements.
The filing seeks to certify a nationwide class and a New York sub-class of blind or visually-impaired users who have been denied full access to the website. It stated one cause of action under the ADA, one under the New York Human Rights Law, and one for declaratory relief. In addition to the equitable relief sought, the plaintiff requested compensatory damages, interest, and her attorneys’ fees and costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Stein Saks PLLC.
Similar lawsuits have been filed by ADA claimants against Instacart and prior to that, Zoom for failing to provide closed captioning for its video conferencing software. In the latter suit, Zoom filed an unopposed motion to transfer venue last month to the Northern District of California from the Eastern District of New York.