AudioEye’s Customer Sued By San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind for Web Accessibility Failures

David Thompson, Tech Times
27 December 2021

Despite working for a long time with AudioEye for website remediation, ADP, the human resources management software and resources giant, was sued due to consistent failures in AudioEye services and products to be used by blind people.

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in San Francisco, provides services like education, training, advocacy, etc for blind individuals in California and around the world.

Lighthouse brought on ADP’s solution for their HR needs, such as ADP’s Workforce Now human resources, and payroll products and services. Unfortunately, quickly after starting to work with ADP’s platform, employees from SF LightHouse for the Blind who are blind started to report problems while using the platform. In fact, the platform was not accessible to them and rather than improve their user experience it created obstacles and significantly prolonged what should have been straightforward HR tasks.

This has been going on for over three years until finally employees and managers with disabilities put their foot down. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Lighthouse by Disability Rights Advocates in San Francisco County Superior Court (DRA). The allegations claim that ADP’s cloud-based payroll and HR services are not accessible for people who use screen readers, such as blind people, to access content.

“The product’s inaccessibility prevents managers from doing their jobs and causes LightHouse to have to overstaff certain roles as a result; and managers, non-managers, and administrative staff are all forced to waste valuable time and resources in order to accomplish basic HR functions,” the complaint reads.

However, ADP relied on AudioEye to implement the correct accessibility adjustments that would make their products accessible to screen reader users. Unfortunately, the lawsuit clarified that AudioEye’s software did not ensure accessibility for these people.

Due to the fact that California law requires businesses to provide “full and equal access” to products and services to people with disabilities, ADP’s website and mobile app violate that law by failing to ensure that their digital assets are accessible to people with disabilities and visual impairments.

Here are some of the areas the AudioEye failed to adjust according to accessibility standards:

Unfillable Forms: The ADP website contains fields that could be misleading to people with visual disabilities because they aren’t clearly identified for users to understand.

Exclusively Visual Information and Features: ADP’s website contains missing or hidden elements that prevent screen reader users from accessing the same content as sighted users because context isn’t accessible to assistive technology.

Unannounced Changes of State: ADP’s mobile app and website contain menus that fail to meet reasonable standards, changing focus to new menus without providing context for users with screen readers. This leads to screen readers not understanding whether an element is collapsed or open.

Improperly Labeled Elements: Screen readers are prevented from interpreting various elements accurately because of improper labeling.

The fact that ADP did enlist the services of AudioEye with the right intention unfortunately still did not help them avoid litigation because the service did not enhance accessibility. This further demonstrates that while the intent is necessary to make websites accessible, it’s equally as important to make sure the service provider will be able to perform the web accessibility needs of a business.

There are several options available to businesses seeking web accessibility solutions and services. It’s important to understand your business’ needs and do research of different web accessibility companies. If there’s anything we can learn from ADP’s lawsuit it’s that you need a web accessibility solution you can rely on. Not just to mitigate the risk of litigation but also so that you can ensure that people with disabilities are using your services and products the way you intended. Upholding this kind of integrity is essential for web accessibility.

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