Does Beyonce's website discriminate visually impaired users?
Beyonce’s website (beyonce.com) is facing legal action over the Americans with Disabilities Act violation claims. The website impedes the users with disabilities the access to available products and services.
What are the accusations against beyonce.com?
Beyonce's management company has been officially sued over the accessibility of the website. The lawsuit claims that Beyonce's website fails to accommodate visually impaired people limiting the accessibility to the website content. Because of the lack of ADA recommendation implemented it's not possible to browse the website, understand the content or purchase goods.
The author of the lawsuit Mary Connor from New York, who is visually impaired (blind), has been a Beyonce fan for many years.
"Accessibility is a basic human right. It benefits everyone." – Eve Andersson, Google
Examples of complaints - some technical details
According to the lawsuit the beyonce.com website contains a set of photos without any coded alt-text. Using alternative text for any non-text content for example images help impaired users to determine what is on the website. Thanks to screen readers software that may read (speak) alternative text the visually impaired people find it easier to browse a website or take any action like purchase products.
According to WCAG 2.0 guidelines:
Guideline 1.1 Text Alternatives:
Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
The complaint also contains a whole list of other issues, such as the lack of accessible drop-down menus and navigation links which means the limitation to navigate using the keyboard only (without the mouse).
According to WCAG 2.0 guidelines:
Guideline 2.1 Keyboard Accessible:
Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
Guideline 2.4 Navigable:
Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
The above accessibility recommendation rules come from the wide WCAG 2.0 document that covers detailed information how to make a website for people with disabilities including criteria divided into 4 groups: perceivable, operable, understandable, robust. ADA covers WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
Does beyonce.com website need ADA expert?
Yes. The web developer who implements ADA rules on a website needs to know the technical recommendations for WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
The process of making a website accessible for people with different disabilities (including vision, physical, cognitive, and hearing impairments) requires doing WCAG audit, analyzing WCAG reports and find solutions.
It may sound quite easy but it isn't.
The complexity of tasks depends on the website functionality - for more static websites like https://beyonce.com (assuming the website code can be edited) it would be much easier to make it ADA compliant than dynamic websites like online stores. Beyonce's store https://shop.beyonce.com is based on the Shopify platform that is not accessible ready yet and does not allow for freely code customization.
Recent statistics show that around 1 in 5 people in the U.S. live with one or more disabling conditions. Hundreds of lawsuits alleging ADA discrimination were filed against websites and it costs e-commerce retailers expensive and lengthy litigation. To prevent the digital exclusion on your website trust ADA experts and make your website accessible to avoid being sued.
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