Celebrities are always clamoring for advertising exposure to promote their brands. And there’s a pretty common misconception that’s always being thrown around that even if the press is negative, it still gets their name in the papers and achieves the goal of getting more recognition. However, there is one type of publicity that paints celebrities in a really negative light – not following national disability guidelines.

You might think that there isn’t much the Kardashian clan can do to tarnish their brand. They seem pretty impervious to any sort of long-term negativity. Or, and this is just my opinion, there is so much drama that it’s hard for the public to focus on one story for too long. Everyone gets swept up in the next big story that it gets tough to keep everything straight.

Online Shopping Made (Allegedly) Complicated

Still, one big news item that came out recently looks like it might stick. The Kardashians own a store, DASH to be exact. While the store has physical locations, it also has an online presence and that’s where the big problem is. The DASH website isn’t accessible, and customers are angry.

According to celebrity gossip sites, the DASH brand is being sued by Andres Gomez for violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. Gomez is legally blind and suing the business (not individual Kardashians) for violating the Act and preventing him from accessing the website’s content. TMZ (I can’t believe I’m actually citing them as a source for my writing) reports, “He says the site contains barriers and Dash is well aware but refuses to fix it.”[1]

This isn’t the first time that Gomez has filed a claim against an online retailer. A Yahoo News article quotes him as stating, “’In a world of increasing number of low vision and blind individuals that is expected to double by 2050, it is essential that low vision and blind individuals are not excluded from Web commerce,’ Gomez said in his complaint against Urban Outfitters.”[2] While some media outlets are questioning whether he’s only in it for the money, they are missing the point. Money might be a factor, I don’t know the defendant personally, but making progress is the bigger point for me.

What’s The Problem?

As I’ve discussed in other posts, websites need to comply with WCAG 2.0 guidelines. The defendant in this lawsuit is legally blind, and uses the internet with the assistance of a screen reader. Screen readers are supposed to be a helpful way for blind users to have website content read to them. If there isn’t content for the program to read, then it’s pretty useless.

In order to make a screen reader work properly, websites need to write clear text and alt text for their websites. This will allow the program to convert text into speech that can be read to the blind or visually impaired user. It’s a simple way to give access to people who need help due to low vision.

Screen readers don’t just help users to understand website content, they also add context for people using keyboard navigation. Screen readers will relay navigation text to the person who can then use their keyboard to navigate to the content pages they want to access (just a note: the UserWay widget can help your users with keyboard navigation). Having solid website content and navigation structure will help blind and visually impaired users access your website’s content and keep you from getting slammed with a lawsuit like DASH, although whether or not they are found in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act remains to be seen.

This Story Is Just Unfolding…

Want more details? Here are a few of the news outlets covering the story, we’ll try our best to update you as new details emerge:

UserWay Gives Your Users the Tools They Need

We need to level the digital playing field and make online content universally accessible. UserWay gives website owners a great way to take steps toward making sites WCAG 2.0 compliant and providing users with the accessibility options they need. The free widget is simple to install without touching your site’s code. Open your users up to a new world of digital possibilities by installing UserWay for your site now.

[1] http://www.tmz.com/2016/10/16/kim-kardashian-khloe-kourtney-dash-blind-lawsuit?adid=TMZ_Search_Results

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/style/kardashians-dash-store-sued-for-discrimination-175938890.html