Cookies on Pinsent Masons website

This website uses cookies to allow us to see how the site is used. The cookies cannot identify you. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with this

If you want to use the sites without cookies or would like to know more, you can do that here.

Airlines sued over web site accessibility for blind users

US-based disability rights group Access Now and a blind internet user have filed lawsuits against Southwest and American Airlines, claiming that the carriers’ web sites do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Oct 2002

It appears that Robert Gumson sued the airlines after he discovered that their web sites were not compatible with his screen-reading program which converts web site content to speech, enabling visually impaired individuals to use the internet.

According to, Gumson and Access One claim that, under a broad interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the internet is a “public accommodation”. Therefore, businesses should be required to make their web sites accessible to the disabled, just as they do with their brick-and-mortar facilities. reports that the airlines have responded by filing a motion to dismiss the claim. They suggest that the Act only applies to facilities that exist physically, and that it was never meant to apply to web sites.

In the UK, the Disability Discrimination Act applies to web sites and requires them to be accessible to the visually impaired. More information is available in OUT-LAW’s article, Disabled access to web sites under UK law.