Man Sues Retailers Over POS, Including Apple

March 5, 2014

A Florida man has filed a series of class-action lawsuits against 10 retailers along the upscale Lincoln Road (Miami) shopping street, saying that the stores’ point-of-sale systems are inaccessible by those who are legally blind and are in violation of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Among the identical lawsuits is one filed against Apple for the lack of accessibility at its Lincoln Road (Fla.) store. Plaintiff David New is a accessibility rights activist, and says he visited the Apple store to make a purchase with a debit card. However, he was “unable to make the purchase independently because, at the time of the visit, Defendant’s POS Device was not fully accessible to, and independently usable by, blind people.” Specifically, a customer must enter a PIN number to authorize a debit card payment, but a blind person cannot see “the numerical references displayed on the keypad of the POS Device,” the lawsuit states. In the lawsuit, New asks to represent others who are “similarly situated,” and demands that the retailers take “all necessary steps” to come into compliance with the ADA.

New, 43, lost his eyesight from a degenerative eye disease in 2001. Since 2008 he’s been chair of the city of Miami Beach Disability Access committee. In 2010 he founded and became president of the Miami Beach Council of the Blind. Neither affiliation is mentioned in his 10 lawsuits. He created the annual Ability Explosion event in Miami Beach that includes dining in the dark, a 5K run, a technology showcase and other events.

In his federal District Court filing, New said that Apple, “does not provide any auxiliary aids or services calculated to make its POS Devices fully accessible to, and independently usable by, blind people.” (But see the photo and explanation below.) The lawsuit makes identical claims against the other retailers, saying they use a POS device with a touch-screen surface “with features that are not discernible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.”

Besides Apple, New filed lawsuits against Guess, Fossill, Anthropologie, Lucky Brands Jeans, Disney Store, Lululemon, Bath & Body Works, Bebe and Juicy Couture. All are located within a six-block stretch of the pedestrian mall that comprises Lincoln Road.

New claims to represent others who are “similarly situated,” and that he has retained counsel who is “competent and experienced in class-action litigation.” He does not request any punitive or compensatory damages, simply that the retailers take action to become compliant with the ADA.

According to a database of federal civil court filings, New has not previously initiated any lawsuits, ADA-related or otherwise.

Within the ADA, point-of-sale terminals fall under the same provisions (4.34) as automated teller machines (ATM), including the ability to approach the device and reach it, and for use by those with vision impairments.

Download (pdf) the Apple lawsuit filing, and the other retailer lawsuits.

This is the Hypercom-brand (now Equinox Payments) point-of-sale terminal currently available within Apple stores. It  is specifically designed to accept payment cards that require a personal identification number (PIN), such as a debit card, and features a rubber privacy shield for the keypad. It’s difficult to see in the photo, but the “5” key has two raised reference dots to guide hand placement to the correct keys, and the action keys (Cancel, Clear, Enter) have standard raised symbols indicating their action. Most U.S. Apple stores have two of these devices, located on the left and right wall counters, at the back of the Red Zone. A blind person could presumably use the physical keys to enter their ATM card PIN using this terminal. It’s not clear if the Lincoln Road store where the lawsuit plaintiff visited had one of these terminals at the time of the plaintiff’s visit.


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