A proposed class action lawsuit filed late last week alleges the website of Conde Nast Entertainment-owned publication Glamour unlawfully and systematically discriminates against deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. The case claims alleged accessibility barriers found within the defendant’s website violate civil rights laws, specifically the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and New York State Human Rights Law.
How could a website be called discriminatory?
According to the 23-page lawsuit, Glamour.com contains access barriers—namely a lack of closed captioning for its video content—that “make it difficult, if not impossible” for deaf and hard-of-hearing users to comprehend audio portions of the website. Despite the availability and prevalence of assistive technology, Glamour.com allegedly chooses to post videos without closed captioning, making them essentially inaccessible for a particular segment of users.
“Without closed captioning, deaf and hard of hearing people cannot comprehend the audio portion of the videos on Glamour.com,” the lawsuit summarizes. “By failing to make the website accessible to deaf and hard of hearing persons, [Conde Nast] is violating basic equal access requirements under both state and federal law.”
As a result, deaf and hard-of hearing users often must go above and beyond what many would consider reasonable to enjoy Conde Nast’s videos, the suit claims.
What was the plaintiff’s experience?
The lawsuit claims the plaintiff, a legally deaf New York City resident, intended to watch videos—the complaint mentions one titled “70 People Ages 5-75 Answer: What Would Improve the Quality of Your Life?”—on the defendant’s prominent fashion and entertainment site, but had her efforts thwarted due to Conde Nast’s alleged refusal to accommodate hearing-impaired individuals. Proposed class members end up spending far more time and energy to consume the defendant’s video content on Glamour.com than should be allowable, the case says.
“Some deaf and hard of hearing individuals may require an interpreter to apprehend the audio portion of the video or require assistance from their friends and family,” the lawsuit reads. “By contrast, if Glamour.com was accessible, a deaf or hard of hearing person could independently watch the videos and enjoy the service provided by Glamour as hearing individuals can and do.”
The Proposed Class
The class of individuals proposed by the lawsuit includes all legally deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States who have tried to access Glamour.com and were denied access to “the enjoyment of goods and services” offered therein during the court-defined time period.
The full complaint can be read below.