Cook County Record
April 24, 2017
Lawsuit: McDonald's website, mobile app not accessible to the blind, violates ADA
by Jonathan Bilyk
A blind man has sued McDonald’s, claiming the fast food giant has discriminated against him under federal disabilities law because it has not made its smartphone app or website accessible to those with visual impairments.
On April 23, plaintiff Sean Gorecki, of Los Angeles, filed suit in Chicago federal court, accusing the Oak Brook-based McDonald’s Corp. of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as California state law.
According to his lawsuit, Gorecki, while visually impaired, navigates the internet and smartphone apps by using special screen-reading software. Specifically, the complaint said Gorecki regularly uses a popular screen reader known as “Jobs Access With Speech,” or JAWS, to browse webpages and obtain information from online sources.
The complaint said he also uses an Apple iPhone, browsing websites and mobile apps using the iPhone’s built-in VoiceOver screen reader.
The complaint noted federal authorities have typically interpreted the ADA law to mean businesses must also design their websites and apps to allow for people with visual impairments to read the pages and access the information using only such a screen reader and a keyboard.
However, Gorecki said he and others who are blind or have significant visual impairments cannot easily read the information listed on McDonald’s website or app, including sections designed to allow users to “find … restaurants, access menu item descriptions and nutritional information, acquire special offers and coupons, and many other benefits related to these goods and services.”
He alleged McDonald’s has designed these online sources in ways that make it difficult for the screen readers he uses to navigate and access the information contained on the pages and in the app.
Specifically, the complaint alleged the online resources lacked accessible slide shows, made it difficult for visually impaired site users to use the site’s Nutrition Calculator, contained bad links and various “cursor traps,” which “structured (the site) in a confusing manner for screen readers.”
“During several separate visits to Defendant’s (McDonald’s) website and mobile app, Plaintiff (Gorecki) encountered multiple access barriers which denied Plaintiff full and equal access to the facilities, goods and services offered to the public and made available to the public on Defendant’s websites,” the complaint said.
The lawsuit alleged the “widespread access barriers” has meant those with visual impairments have “been deterred, on a regular basis, from accessing Defendant’s website and Mobile App,” preventing them from enjoying “full and equal access” to McDonald’s “goods and services” and deterring Gorecki and others from being able to visit McDonald’s restaurants “to purchase McDonald’s products and utilize coupons found on McDonald’s website and Mobile App.”
In the complaint, the plaintiffs ask the court to order McDonald’s to agree to allow a consultant to work with their website and mobile app teams to redesign the resources to be accessible to those with visual impairments who are using screen readers.
The lawsuit asks the court to order McDonald’s to pay compensatory damages “including, but not limited to, mental anguish, loss of dignity, and any other intangible injuries suffered by the Plaintiff as a result of the Defendant’s discrimination,” plus attorney fees. And the lawsuit asks the judge to award statutory minimum damages of $4,000 per violation, under California law.
Gorecki is represented in the action by attorneys Rusty A. Payton and Marc E. Dann, of the firm of PaytonDann, of Chicago, and attorneys Joseph R. Manning Jr. and Caitlin J. Scott, of the Manning Law Office, of Newport Beach, Calif.
Free Service Dog Eye Exams the Entire Month of May
MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets
Registration Begins April 1st
MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets is providing free eye exams the entire month of May to service dogs during the 9th Annual ACVO®/StokesRx™ National Service Dog Eye Exam Event. Four of MedVet’s medical centers are providing these screenings – Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton, Ohio plus Lexington, Kentucky. These screenings are by appointment only. Over 45,000 service animals throughout the U.S. and Canada have been examined since the program launched in 2008, with over 7,000 dogs in 2015. More than 150 of those service dogs are examined at MedVet each year. MedVet’s three board-certified ophthalmologists provide free eye exams the entire month of May to service dogs who dedicate their lives to serving the public. This includes search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, therapy dogs, police dogs, and handicapped assistance dogs. “It’s an honor to give back to dogs that help people every day,” says Dr. Terah Webb, the Ophthalmologist at MedVet Columbus. “Whether it’s a search and rescue dog helping a community or a disabled person’s life-line for independence, I love to interact with these dogs. It’s rewarding to detect a potential problem early that may limit their service or their comfort if left untreated.” In addition to weekday exams the entire month of May, MedVet Columbus & Cincinnati will also be holding a special screening event on Sunday, May 15, 2016 to facilitate multiple specialty exams to service dogs. On this day, service dogs will receive more than just an eye exam from the ophthalmology department. Their appointment will include being examined by doctors from MedVet’s other specialty departments and will include a general physical exam. These screenings are by appointment only. How to Register: Online registration for these exams is open April 1-30.
To qualify, dogs must be “active working dogs” that were certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying organization could be national, regional, or local in nature. Before calling MedVet to schedule an appointment, first go online to register at http://www.ACVOeyeexam.org . Specific service groups are also listed on the website. Once registered, please call MedVet’s ophthalmology department to schedule your appointment – Columbus, OH (614) 846-5800, Cincinnati, OH (513) 561-0069, Dayton, OH (937) 293-2714, or Lexington, KY (859) 276-2505.
Complimentary eye screenings are held the entire month of May at these four MedVet locations. MedVet is joining the approximately 280 ACVO® board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists across the U.S and Canada to provide free sight saving eye exams to improve the health and avert potential diseases for thousands of service animals.
MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets, with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, is a widely recognized and growing group of emergency, critical care and specialty referral veterinary hospitals for companion animals. MedVet is employee owned, veterinary led, and is leading specialty healthcare for pets. MedVet provides specialty referral services for in-depth care and patient management, as well as emergency services, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More than 100,000 dogs and cats are treated annually at MedVet’s expanding network of medical centers across the country. MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets was named the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Accredited Referral Practice of the Year for 2014 and is currently a finalist for 2016. For more information on MedVet’s network of medical centers, visit www.medvetforpets.com.
See more at: https://www.medvetforpets.com/news/free-service-dog-eye-exams-entire-month-may/#sthash.tQsU6Lbc.dpuf
A news blog on issues in the community of people with disabilities and accessibility.
Derek Mortland, ADA and Community Outreach Coordinator