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A Blind Woman Is Suing Beyoncé's Company, Alleging The Singer's Website Is In Violation Of The ADA

The lawsuit states that the plaintiff can't navigate the website because it lacks certain features that allow people who are visually impaired to access online information.

Posted on January 5, 2019, at 9:35 p.m. ET

Max Becherer / AP

A blind woman is suing Beyoncé's management company, alleging that the singer's website is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act because it is inaccessible for people with visual impairments.

The class-action suit, filed Thursday against Parkwood Entertainment in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, states that the plaintiff is unable to independently browse and navigate the website beyonce.com because it lacks certain features that allow people who are blind or visually impaired to access online information.

By not providing these accommodations, the company is denying equal access to the website in violation of the rights of people with visual impairments under the ADA, the suit argues.

"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," the complaint states, adding that artist's website serves as a venue for fans to learn more about her, read news and tour information, and shop for merchandise.

"Unfortunately, this is where the connection between artist and fan end — at least where the fan is blind or visually impaired," the complaint continues.

The plaintiff, identified as Mary Conner of New York, is legally blind and cannot use a computer without the assistance of screen reader software that vocalizes visual information on a computer screen, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit says that Conner has been a fan of Beyoncé for years, but when she tried to access the singer's website she was unable to because it lacked alternative text (code embedded beneath images), prompting information, accessible drop-down menus, and other accommodations that allow blind shoppers to locate and fill out online forms.

"Beyonce.com provides to the public a wide array of the goods, services, price specials, and other programs offered by Parkwood. Yet, Beyonce.com contains thousands of access barriers that make it difficult if not impossible for blind and visually impaired customers to use the website," the complaint reads.

A representative for Parkwood did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment Saturday.

While the ADA, which became law in 1990, does not specifically mention websites, the antidiscrimination law has been interpreted to extend protections for people with disabilities to websites, according to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility.

The idea is that since websites are an extension of an organization's business operations — and because the act prohibits disability-based discrimination by the government or private businesses that are open to the public — those organizations should make their sites compliant with the ADA.

Experts say there has been an increase in recent years in similar lawsuits against businesses and governments alleging their websites violate the ADA. In 2017, plaintiffs filed more than 800 complaints in federal court against companies, including Nike, Burger King, and Pandora.

That same year, in what was believed to be the first case to go to trial, a federal judge in Florida ruled in favor of a blind man who alleged ADA violations and ordered the supermarket chain Winn-Dixie to update its website to comply with a set of web accessibility guidelines drafted by experts.

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