Over the past year, restaurants and retailers have had to improve access to their physical locations, websites, and mobile applications to ensure that they are accessible to all individuals and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Now, restaurants and retailers may have another issue that they need to grapple with in order to comply with the ADA – including braille on gift cards.
The World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”) is a collaborative community that develops standards for the Internet. One of W3C’s goals is to make the web accessible to everyone, regardless of an individual’s accessibility needs. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that the electronic and information technology of federal agencies are accessible to people with disabilities, whether they are employees or members of the public. W3C publishes the Web Content Accessibility Guide (WCAG), which addresses how to create accessible websites. The WCAG was used by the U.S. Access Board to create standards for Section 508. Recent cases like Gorecki v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. reveal the need to not only comply with these laws and regulations, but to adopt a culture that goes above and beyond the minimum.
On October 2, 2017, the United States Supreme Court denied a petition to Emmette Magee (“Magee”), a blind man, who claimed that the vending machines violate Title III under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Coca-Cola vending machines, similar to other modern vending machines, are “self-service and fully automated machines that dispense bottles.” These machines also include credit and debit card processing, and payment from smartphones, but require the consumer to select a beverage using a number pad associated with the product in the vending machine. Magee, the petitioner, claimed that these vending machines lacked any meaningful accommodation for use by the blind, because the machines contained an “entirely visual interface.”