How a Law Firm ‘Tightened’ a Client’s Disability Lawsuit
- In 2015, only 57 companies were sued for website accessibility. Last year, more than 2,500 were.
- One of the most prolific law firms has exaggerated a client’s disability in legal cases.
- The client said she didn’t even know what her lawyers were saying about her disability.
Frances Kalender is legally blind. She suffers from a condition called retinitis pigmentosa which eats away at her peripheral vision. She can’t drive and some things seem blurry, but her central vision is still working; she can read.
But in 13 trials, his lawyers gave a different impression, telling a judge Kalender couldn’t browse the internet without
software called a screen reader.
When Insider read portions of the lawsuits filed on his behalf, Kalender looked confused. She doesn’t need a screen reader. In fact, she finds them a bit boring. “They made my blindness worse,” she said of her lawyers.
Accessibility of websites is a real issue for blind users, and lawsuits can be an effective way to get businesses to fix their sites. But the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act are vague, and even though more than 2,500 companies were sued last year for their websites, surveys of blind internet users suggest accessibility is not improving. Actually.
Insider spoke to lawyers, visually impaired people who struggled with technology designed for sighted people, and business owners who paid to settle cases they didn’t think deserved. . Kalender also shared details of the bizarre path that brought her to the doorstep of the most prolific website accessibility lawyers in the United States.