Department of Justice Settles with Grocery Store Over Accessibility of its Website

Category: Private Education Matters
Date: Dec 23, 2014 05:17 PM

Peapod, LLC owns and operates a website (www.peapod.com) and its related mobile applications, which are available on computers and other mobile devices.  The website allows users to browse, shop, and purchase groceries for home deliveries.  As a public accommodation, Peapod is covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as are all private schools except for religious schools.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) determined that Peapod's website is not accessible to some individuals with disabilities, including those who are blind or have low vision, are deaf or hard of hearing, or having physical disabilities affecting their manual dexterity and ability to use a mouse.  For example, individuals who use screen reader software cannot fully participate in the site because certain images, buttons and form fields are unlabeled or have inaccurate alternative text, pop-up windows are not reported to screen readers, or tables are missing header information.  Individuals who are deaf have trouble because some of the video captioning is inaccurate and those with manual dexterity disabilities are affected because Java script throughout the website is not available for those who cannot use a mouse.

Peapod denied that its website is not accessible, yet it voluntarily entered into a settlement agreement with the DOJ to resolve the matter.  Peapod stated that it has provided a screen reader version of its website since the 1990s, and that if customers have technical difficulty due to disabilities, the company allows them to place an order over the phone for no extra charge and with the same delivery speed as online orders.

The settlement requires Peapod to provide equal opportunities for those with disabilities to participate in the services it offers through its website.  The company also must demonstrate that its mobile applications all conform to WCAG 2.0 AA, which is a shared standard for website accessibility.  They also must require vendors to provide content in a format that is compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA, adopt an accessibility policy, and appoint an employee to coordinate these accessibility efforts. Regular tests must be run to ensure that those with disabilities have equal access to the website's service.

More information and a link to the settlement can be found at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-enters-settlement-agreement-peapod-ensure-peapod-grocery-delivery-website.

Note:

As more schools adopt website-based programs that allow students and families to interact with the school, they should be mindful of ensuring that all programs and companies they choose to work with provide platforms that are accessible to users with disabilities.  Schools should consult with their IT professionals or consultants to make sure their websites do not exclude those who may have vision, hearing, or other physical disabilities.

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