Recently, a legally blind plaintiff filed a class action complaint against a leading home improvement and construction products and services retailer alleging that the company violated state law and the American Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying blind individuals equal access to products, services, and opportunities offered on its website. Diaz v. Home Depot, Inc., No. 15-cv-09178 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 20, 2015). The complaint asserts that the company’s website contains barriers that “make it impossible for blind users to even complete a transaction on the website . . . thus exclude[ing] the blind from the full and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of the common marketplace and daily living.” The complaint further alleges that the company chooses “to rely on an exclusively visual interface” despite having access to technology that could make the website more accessible, such as limiting the use of tables and javascript and making use of alternative text, descriptive links, and resizable text. The plaintiff seeks (i) a permanent injunction requiring the company to take the necessary steps to ensure its website fully complies with ADA requirements so that it is accessible and usable by blind individuals; and (ii) compensatory damages to the plaintiff and a proposed subclass of blind customers.

The lawsuit is one of a number filed in 2015 - including a November 6 complaint against the NBA - under the ADA against companies operating websites with alleged digital barriers preventing blind individuals from accessing the electronic marketplace. According to a DOJ statement regarding its regulatory plans, rulemaking initiatives regarding the accessibility of web information and services provided by public accommodations are not scheduled to be included in the agency’s long-term actions until fiscal years 2017 and 2018.