More lawsuits filed against companies using accessibility plugin/overlays

ADP has been sued for inaccessibility despite using a popular overlay. The rest of the cases involving overlays have been small potatoes by comparison.

Word/image cloud w/ Payroll in the center. Taxes bonuses salaries holiday pay withholding tips social security also mentioned
Word/image cloud w/ Payroll in the center. Taxes bonuses salaries holiday pay withholding tips social security also mentioned

I am predicting that SF Lighthouse for the Blind v. ADP will be to overlays what the Domino’s case was to general accessibility litigation.

I personally made my first complaint about ADP site inaccessibility on behalf of a blind co-worker about five years ago. I re-iterated the complaints twice in subsequent years. ADP’s reaction to mine (and other’s) complaints was not to fix its website's accessibility issues.

Instead of solving the problem

ADP installed an accessibility overlay.

While AudioEye is not named in the litigation, you can tell that’s what ADP used because ADP says so in their accessibility statement.

AudioEye claims (language directly from their website) to:

  • Reduce your risk of a digital accessibility lawsuit;

But here is what the plaintiffs claimed they experienced with the ADP+AudioEye combination:

  1. Links do not work;

Any one of the plaintiffs’ complaints would be a serious WCAG 2.1 violation.

Why this suit matters

  1. This is not the first lawsuit about accessibility plugins/overlays, but it is against the largest named defendant to-date.
  • Bashin v. Conduent, a current case where the plaintiff sued as a whistleblower when a vendor failed to provide the accessible campground reservation system the State of California contracted for.

Could this suit be the first nail in the coffin for accessibility overlays as a “solution”?

As I discussed in a previous article, overlays are not a viable solution to accessibility problems, for the following reasons:

  1. You can’t fix automatically what can’t be detected automatically;

A Lighthouse win, followed by ADP counterclaiming against AudioEye, could be the first salvo in ending the accessibility plugin/overlay farce.

Written by

Accessibility Architect @ VMware. W3C Silver, ITI & IAAP GLC committees. Degrees in CS, law, business. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter.

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