Parkwood Entertainment, the American management and entertainment company founded by American singer Beyoncé, is facing legal action over website accessibility, according to the Hollywood Reporter
Mary Conner, a New York woman who describes herself as having “no vision whatsoever” has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the singer’s website Beyonce.com denies equal access to products and services to users with vision impairments, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
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.
Plaintiff, Ms Conner states that due to a lack of alt-text and efforts to make the website accessible for those using screenreaders, she is unable to use the website without assistance from a sighted companion.
Dan Shake, the attorney representing Ms Conner, wrote in the complaint: “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.
“Plaintiff dreams of attending a Beyonce concert and listening to her music in a live setting. However, when she browsed the Beyonce.com website, she encountered numerous barriers which limited her accessibility to the goods and services offered on the website.”
In order to be compatible with screenreaders websites must provide alt-text for any pictures used and ensure that the coding behind the site allows for easy navigation. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are internationally accepted standards for website accessibility.
Find out more about online accessibility in the SCOVI Design for Inclusion Toolkit.
Following an EU directive, regulations came into force in September 2018 requiring public bodies in the UK to meet a minimum standard of website accessibility, despite this a recent study found that 4 in 10 local councils’ homepages failed basic tests for accessibility. New laws covering website accessibility for public bodies will be rolled out across the EU in September 2019.
As a society we have the ability to enable people by taking simple steps and designing for inclusion, rather than disable them.
Legislation for private companies is likely to follow in the coming years, however, many elements of website accessibility are already enforceable across the UK under the Equality Act 2010.
SCOVI Chief Executive Maggie Chapman said: “This is an important lawsuit which could greatly raise awareness of website accessibility across the globe. Access to the internet could and should be accessible to everyone, regardless of any sensory impairment or disability. We hope that Parkwood Entertainment don’t just address the issue with their own site, but also use this as an opportunity to promote equal access and inclusion.
“As a society we have the ability to enable people by taking simple steps and designing for inclusion, rather than disable them. Website accessibility can be easy to achieve and needn’t be seen as a compromise.”
SCOVI can provide bespoke training and support for your organisation to ensure that you are designing for inclusion. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.