Grubhub and Postmates are being sued in MIami for websites that discriminate against people with visual disabilities.
Grubhub and Postmates are being sued in MIami for websites that discriminate against people with visual disabilities.

Disability Advocates Say Postmates, Grubhub Websites Discriminate Against Blind People

There are two types of people who get food delivered: those who want it immediately and don't feel like going out, and those who basically don't have another option for eating. Some are elderly, some don't have transportation, and some physically can't drive a car due to poor eyesight.

But oftentimes, delivery companies make it next to impossible for those folks to order food. Last week, a Miami-based disability-rights group filed suit against delivery giants Postmates and Grubhub, claiming their sites can't be used by people with visual impairments.

"They are not only marginalizing the visually impaired community," the lawsuits say, "but they are actively excluding them from their business, which in fact segregates the disabled into being non-participants, i.e. second-class citizens."

In an increasingly online world, not only is it good business sense to make your website friendly to the estimated 7 million Americans with visual disabilities, but it's also the law. In recent years, judges have interpreted the American Disabilities Act to find that companies with public websites must make some basic accommodations for people who look at those sites with a screen reader that either spits words out verbally or in Braille.

Still, some of the biggest names in tech have failed to get their sites up to compliance. After facing complaints from the American Council of the Blind, Netflix added audio description tracks to its programming last year in the hopes of quashing further controversy. In a similar case, Target was hit with $10 million in damages in a class-action lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind over its noncompliant website.

In the Miami cases, a local group called Open Access for All says the websites for Postmates and Grubhub can't be used by people with visual impairments and that no hotlines or email contacts are listed to offer customers special assistance. That failure amounts to a "virtual barrier" for the 469,000 Floridians with visual disabilities, the group claims.

"Such barriers result in discriminatory and unequal treatment," the lawsuit says.

Scott Disin, the attorney for Open Access for All, was out of the office this week and unavailable to comment. The group has filed similar suits against delivery companies Bite Squad and DoorDash.

Grubhub spokesperson Katie Norris said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation. Postmates did not respond to a request from New Times.

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