We admit our immediate reaction to the story was to look for The Onion‘s byline. But, no, it’s legit: Peter Luger, the iconic Brooklyn, NY steakhouse, is being sued by a blind woman who wanted to place an order (they ship uncooked steaks and more by mail) and could not because the website is not blind accessible. While reading The Daily News’ story, we learned a little about websites and the blind and came away not quite as certain about the just outcome as we were minutes earlier.
For instance, we didn’t realize that there is such a thing as blind-accessible websites, which depend on invisible code which can allow screen-reading software to read aloud. Is such software fairly inexpensive and common? How difficult and/or costly is it to include code on a website to make these devices work? Are all websites really “public accommodations” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Is Left at the Fork a “public accommodation”? Are only websites that offer something for sale “public accommodations”?
In the specific case of Peter Luger, does the fact that the woman could have placed her order by phone constitute a valid defense for the restaurant? The Daily News story indicates that dozens of such lawsuits have been filed against a number of companies. Our guess is that they will go nowhere but we’re interested to see how this will be resolved.