Smart Home Automation Technology Company Sued for Website ADA Violations

On Monday in the Southern District of New York, the plaintiff, a visually impaired and legally blind individual, filed a class-action complaint against Brilliant Home Technology, a smart home automation company, for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) for its website, which the plaintiff and putative class were unable to fully access with their screen-reading software.

The complaint stated that “Congress enacted the ADA as a way of banning discrimination based on a disability. The ADA guarantees that people with disabilities…have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life.” Accordingly, the plaintiff stated that these “opportunities include access to web content, by requiring business websites to include screen readers and other assistive technologies to ensure consumers with disabilities have the same access as everyone else.”

The plaintiff averred that when visiting Brilliant Home Technology’s website, the plaintiff was quickly aware of Brilliant Home Technology’s purported “failure to maintain and operate its website in a way to make it fully accessible for himself and for other blind or visually-impaired people.” The plaintiff claimed that screen-reading software technology allows the visually impaired to fully access a website, including the information, products, and other items contained on the website. However, the plaintiff stated, “for screen-reading software to function, the information on a website must be capable of being rendered into text. If the website content in not capable of being rendered into text, the blind or visually-impaired user is unable to access the same content available to sighted users.” Furthermore, W3C, an international website standards organization, published guidelines for website accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which is designed to ensure that websites have guidelines to make them accessible. Despite the guidelines, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant has denied “full and equal access to its website,” thereby denying the goods and services it offers, in violation of the ADA.

Specifically, the plaintiff proffered that in October, he visited the defendant’s website using NonVisual Desktop Access, a popular screen-reading software. However, he was unable to browse or make a purchase from the website. The plaintiff contended that the defendant’s website failed to have the necessary features for accessibility and contained numerous barriers. For example, the plaintiff noted that “many features on the Website fail to accurately describe the contents of graphical images, fail to properly label title, fails to distinguish one page from another, contain multiple broken links, contain headings that do not describe the topic or purpose, and the keyboard user interfaces lack a mode of operation where the keyboard focus indicator is visible.”

The class includes all legally blind individuals in the U.S. who have attempted to access the defendant’s website, but were denied access. The subclass includes all legally blind individuals in New York City who have tried to access the defendant’s website but were denied access.

The plaintiff is represented by Marcus & Zelman, LLC.