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Apple settles disability lawsuit over San Francisco store

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
Apple has agreed to make changes to its San Francisco store and retrain its entire retail workforce as part of a settlement in a long-running disability lawsuit filed by two wheelchair-bound customers.

Oakland residents Jana Overbo and Nicole Brown-Booker, together with Apple, signed an agreement late last week to make three pages' worth of changes to the actual store on Stockton Street, the Cupertino-based company's employee training procedures, and its retail website.

The two women had separate but identically frustrating experiences in May and July of 2007. According to the original suit, neither could reach products or service desks from their wheelchairs, the store's presentation theater lacked accessible seating or passageways, and elevator buttons were placed too high to reach, resulting in wasted trips and added difficulty.

Both Overbo and Brown-Booker had made it clear in their suit that they were more interested in seeing helpful changes made rather than being awarded punitive damages, so news of a settlement is not surprising. The two sides agreed on a separate settlement to cover legal fees and their attorneys' compensation, and the details of that part of the case remain confidential.

Changes to the San Francisco store

According to the 13-page consent order filing, Apple will make sure the "push pressure" needed to open the front door will be kept at the levels outlined by the ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The Mac maker will also install handrails in the west end corridor and install Braille signage at each elevator landing.

The first-floor unisex bathroom's door will be monitored for push pressure requirements and receive an accessible coat hook on the interior side, while a motion-activated light switch will be installed in the bathroom itself. The filing also notes changes to the location of the commode and requires that Apple "insure that an adequate supply of toilet paper is placed in the upper dispenser."

As for the presentation theater, new wheelchair seating spaces will be added to the back row while the current wheelchair-intended seating in the front row will be removed. Apple employees will also reportedly make sure children's computer programs at the kids' table can be moved to an accessible table upon request, and Geniuses will offer to move the desktop computer monitors at either end of the Genius Bar for easier access and viewing.

Changes to employee training

Along with the childrens' programs and Genius Bar requirements, the agreement calls for Apple to provide mandatory "outreach" training for all present and future retail associates. These efforts will focus on approaching and greeting wheelchair-using customers upon entering, offering assistance in accessing products.

Employees will also be required to offer to help with the operation of display models and move products to special locations on existing tables upon request.

The Genius Bar at Apple's San Francisco flagship shop on One Stockton Street

Once this training is complete, Apple will post language on the accessibility page of its website informing customers with disabilities of the special services available to them.

"Please ask an Associate for assistance if you have difficulty viewing a product when you visit an Apple Retail Store," the notice will say. "They will be happy to assist you by moving displayed products to more accessible locations if possible."

Timeframe for changes

The two sides say they reached the settlement "in order to avoid the costs, expense and uncertainty of protracted litigation." Apple will submit permit applications for the work to the city of San Francisco within 30 days, begin actual work within 30 days of approval, and complete construction within another 30 days of starting.

Employees at the San Francisco store will complete their accessible training by June 30, 2009, presumably to coincide with the finished changes, and the training at all other stores is to be finished by the end of this year.

According to ifoAppleStore, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston is expected to sign the agreement at the next hearing.
post #2 of 71
..... (moderator note: don't be a jerk)
post #3 of 71
I'm a little surprised Apple's stores weren't already ADA compliant.

It's sad how much time (and lawyers' fees) it takes to convince a business to adopt some common sense modifications to make it more accessible for its customers.

At least it was settled before having to go to trial.
post #4 of 71
..... (don't be a jerk)

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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post #5 of 71
It's a shame that it took a lawsuit for Apple to make these changes. I hope that Apple will be making similar changes at ALL of their stores, and not just the San Francisco store?
post #6 of 71
Where were the SF Inspectors when the building was originally built? Inspectors are the ones that should have been held to the chopping block since they have to verify that everything is up to code.

I don't think Apple should have been the ones to get the heat per-se. If the Inspectors signed-off on the final inspections, let them take the heat.

I deal with SF inspectors all the time and quite frankly, they are not worth anything.
post #7 of 71
"The two sides agreed on a separate settlement to cover legal fees and their attorneys' compensation."

Thank goodness for this. I was really worried that the blood-sucking vampire lawyers weren't going to get paid. I HATE lawyers! They're ruining this country and making us all weak, apologetic, scared, and pathetic. It really amazes me how this country was able to run before the day of "suing over a hot cup of McDonald's coffee"? [that's sarcasm for those who can't recognize it]
post #8 of 71
yeah, cause apple is such a backwards company. and apple stores are soooo cramped and hard to move around in. and it's not like they allow you to make a purchase anywhere in the store. are you JOKING?? what a couple of jerks, waste of time and money.
post #9 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

.....

Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.
post #10 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.

I assumed it was black humor . ... surely he was kidding ...
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post #11 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwfrederick View Post

yeah, cause apple is such a backwards company. and apple stores are soooo cramped and hard to move around in. and it's not like they allow you to make a purchase anywhere in the store. are you JOKING?? what a couple of jerks, waste of time and money.

You clearly have NO idea what you are talking about. Your comment betrays your juvenile ignorance. Most people that are disabled are so because the environment in which they operate makes them so. With a little bit of awareness and design fore-thought one can make stores and public places accessible to all. The thing is that when this is done well everybody benefits, not just people with disabilities. Much like with web accessibility.
post #12 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I assumed it was black humor . ... surely he was kidding ...

Maybe, if so s/he just needs a good spanking for poor taste and lousy delivery. I see nothing suggesting there is any kind of humor involved, though.
post #13 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.

Thanks, I was thinking the same thing. Nothing funny at all here. BTW, I am disabled, so I do take offense.
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post #14 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.

Seconded.
post #15 of 71
As a result of an accident, I was on a wheelchair and crutches for a few months. The world sure looked different, I can tell you. It's not until you've walked in those shoes that you realize that disabled folks are not naturally crabby: there are a million little things that happen in most places you go to, quite apart from the lack of compassion you commonly witness -- see, e.g., the moron above -- that starts to grate after a while. I found myself becoming more and more nasty as time went on. (I marvel at those who maintain their sense of humor and equanimity in that situation).

For anyone rolling their eyes: Hope you don't (or someone you care for, whom you have to wheel around doesn't) have to experience it anytime soon!
post #16 of 71
I've actually been in an Apple Store where the staffer who greeted me as I came in (is that the concierge? I have no idea. Orange shirt.) was IN a wheelchair, so I don't think the company is out to make life difficult for people who use wheelchairs. But I could see some of the display surfaces not being at the right height...
post #17 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimMok View Post

Mam, sorry but(t) your AZZ-CRACK is showing....

A not uncommon sight at the Stockton St. Genius Bar.
post #18 of 71
OMG, its a lawsuit that's not patent troll. It benefits people that are not lawyers. AAAAAAHHHHHHH...!
post #19 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

Inane dribble by echosonic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony1 View Post

Thanks, I was thinking the same thing. Nothing funny at all here. BTW, I am disabled, so I do take offense.

I am not disabled. Nor am I inclined to be very "PC", in general. But that comment was just nasty. Even if it was intended as sarcastic humor, it doesn't belong here.
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post #20 of 71
i've been reading this website for many months as one of a handful i relied upon to serve info on an iphone i purchased, and further on for info to help make my first mac purchase a couple of months ago. i only registered for the forum to comment on this news article.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Original Article

These efforts will focus on approaching and greeting wheelchair-using customers upon entering, offering assistance in accessing products.

wtf? ok, first a really short background on me: i'm a disabled vet who needs a cane to get around at 32 years of age. but when i go into a store, i dont care what the damn sign is on the front, DO NOT PATRONIZE ME OR TREAT ME LIKE I'M SPECIAL OR RETARDED. just greet me like any other customer because that's all i am... another customer. obviously these broads think they're entitled to a life of privlege due to their handicap. boohoo.

if i need assistance, i'm able to ask. i'm not some incompetent a-hole who will hobble out of there pissed off because someone wasnt there to wait on me hand and foot. i dont wear my cane like a cross. i suggest these broads take the wheelchairs off their shoulders. if they are busy, i look for the nearest associate, politely wait my turn, then when my turn is up, i act like an adult and verbalize my requests.

granted, i know everyone feels differently as to how they're approached, especially those of us who are disabled... but no matter what your disability is, you do NOT deserve to be treated like a VIP as these women are requesting with that one line.

the rest of it is reasonable though, and should have been caught by the city inspector long before the store opened, though.
post #21 of 71
Theater seating? Apple ditched the Theater from all their stores. How did the construction of the store pass inspection, when current inspection codes require handicap accessibility? Part of the agreement states that Apple must move the toilet in the bathroom? Every bathroom I have been in has always been handicap compliant. In fact, I always use the larger stall for breathing room compared to the extra cramped regular stalls! Nor have I ever seen an elevator button too high to reach. Every Apple store I have been in has been compliant for any type of customer.

Sounds like their main complaint was that the counter was too high and they did not receive any customer service so they blamed it on the fact that they were handicapped. As Oakie said, act like an adult, and you will be treated like an adult, no matter what your physical condition may be. So are they going to sue every store that has a counter that is too high?

I worked for an insurance company that used a combination touchpad for the door security. The buttons were smooth plastic and the numbers illuminated below. Everytime you pressed the start button, the numbers appeared in random order, so you could not watch someone punch in their code to gain access. Now for the funny part: directly above the touchpanel was the plaque on the wall that said "Claims Dept" and the braille translation directly below with raised dots. So if an employee was vision impaired, they could find the Claims Dept by braille on the plaque, but they would have no access to the office since the combination number pad was smooth plastic, and unable to be braille compliant. Typical insurance company. So we all wondered why they were compliant for the blind, when a blind person would be unable to gain access to the actual office.
post #22 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by oakie View Post

wtf? ok, first a really short background on me: i'm a disabled vet who needs a cane to get around at 32 years of age. but when i go into a store, i dont care what the damn sign is on the front, DO NOT PATRONIZE ME OR TREAT ME LIKE I'M SPECIAL OR RETARDED. just greet me like any other customer because that's all i am... another customer. obviously these broads think they're entitled to a life of privlege due to their handicap. boohoo.

You misunderstand. The point, as with web sites that are not accessible, is that it is not necessary. If you use a cane and have trouble using your legs, you are not really disabled if you can walk in through a doorway in order to get inside a store. If that store has a 3 foot threshold, you are suddenly disabled not because of your leg but because of the threshold. If you are a wheel chair user and the door is too narrow, you become disabled. If, on the other hand the door is wide and there is no threshold, you are no longer disabled. Likewise, if you are in a wheelchair and the light switch is too high, the counter is too high, the basin in the public bathroom is too high, etc etc, you become disabled unnecessarily. If you are a mother with a child or two in a buggy and you have to climb 50 steps in order to get out of the subway, you are likewise disabled. Through design we can make people abled, or disabled. Its up to us.
You say you want to be greeted like any other customer. I agree. And surely by the same measure you should be treated like any other customer. By that I mean that the impediments to equality should be removed. Its not really that hard. But it requires dealing with face on and that is what these people are doing.
Its not a matter of being PC. Its just common sense.
post #23 of 71
WTF? only in the US.
post #24 of 71
I'm sure the NY 5th Avenue store must have some lawsuits coming. That place is a trip trap- the staircase in particular. Even outside there is a gutter with a security guard standing in to prevent people from falling. Looks fantastic but somewhat impractical.
post #25 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

As a result of an accident, I was on a wheelchair and crutches for a few months.

I take it that's what the accident was. You were actually ON a wheelchair and crutches? Ouch.
post #26 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Theater seating? Apple ditched the Theater from all their stores.

Um. Have you been to the San Francisco store? Theater is still there. As it is in many of the large flagships.
post #27 of 71
The design changes should have been caught by city planners before allowed to open. (It isn't building inspectors - the planners and the Access Appeals commission in San Francisco have authority.)

Accessibility is part of the law and a requirement - no matter what some stupid people think. I think it is shocking that a company as forward thinking as Apple fought the changes. They aren't mind shattering alterations, just small changes that make some people's lives a little easier. And, if they had done them at the beginning it wouldn't have cost anything extra.

As for those that moan about PC gone mad: what is crazy about allowing people equal access? What is the big deal?
post #28 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony1 View Post

Thanks, I was thinking the same thing. Nothing funny at all here. BTW, I am disabled, so I do take offense.

on an anonymous internet forum? ha, wake up! you are not a long time internet user, right?
post #29 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.

Seconded
We don't have to loose all our manner, just because this is the internet.
post #30 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by emulator View Post

on an anonymous internet forum? ha, wake up! you are not a long time internet user, right?

This is a forum for general discussion. If you want to be an idiot, don't post, or just go jump.

And I don't recall you having the right to dictate where and when I should or should not go on the Internet. Your obviously not a long time user of the organ called "brain", right?
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post #31 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

You clearly have NO idea what you are talking about. Your comment betrays your juvenile ignorance. Most people that are disabled are so because the environment in which they operate makes them so. With a little bit of awareness and design fore-thought one can make stores and public places accessible to all. The thing is that when this is done well everybody benefits, not just people with disabilities. Much like with web accessibility.

wow, thanks paxman for your insight. my eyes are now open. but why stop there? I think it's really unfair that just because of a little pituitary tumor people with gigantism are forced to stoop down to use the computers at the apple store. think of the strain on the back and neck!! who cares if apple actually complies with california's handicap laws. apple should triple the size of all their stores and have three sections: short/handicapped, average height, and very tall. all we have to do is sue again and apple will settle so our bs request won't give people the false impression that apple doesn't care about people. brilliant!
post #32 of 71
having been to the Stockton street store myself WITH a pram (aka as stroller), I can not understand where the complaints of the handicapped people stem from.

When you move about with a pram you have approx. the same mobility as a wheelchair and when my toddler is capable of pushing the buttons in the elevator, then an adult in a wheelchair should be able to do so too.

I found the staff of the store quite helpful guidiong me to the elevator and all. Yes the store is crammed and slightly small but Macy's was no joy either just before x-mas.

IMHO we have a clear case of some ambulance chasing lawyer representing someone who obviously has a chip on their shoulder
post #33 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I assumed it was black humor . ... surely he was kidding ...

no

and how is this funny??? it it were...???
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post #34 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

WTF? only in the US.

when you are disabled i inviete you to travel to europe and compare the situation! or to australia...

the US can be VERY proud of the ADA... VERY!
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post #35 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by freelander51 View Post

having been to the Stockton street store myself WITH a pram (aka as stroller), I can not understand where the complaints of the handicapped people stem from.

When you move about with a pram you have approx. the same mobility as a wheelchair and when my toddler is capable of pushing the buttons in the elevator, then an adult in a wheelchair should be able to do so too.

I found the staff of the store quite helpful guidiong me to the elevator and all. Yes the store is crammed and slightly small but Macy's was no joy either just before x-mas.

IMHO we have a clear case of some ambulance chasing lawyer representing someone who obviously has a chip on their shoulder

it seems you have no had the "pleasure" of being forced to drive around in a wheelchair... if you do, please come back and post again...!
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post #36 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveTheMac View Post

The design changes should have been caught by city planners before allowed to open. (It isn't building inspectors - the planners and the Access Appeals commission in San Francisco have authority.)

Accessibility is part of the law and a requirement - no matter what some stupid people think. I think it is shocking that a company as forward thinking as Apple fought the changes. They aren't mind shattering alterations, just small changes that make some people's lives a little easier. And, if they had done them at the beginning it wouldn't have cost anything extra.

As for those that moan about PC gone mad: what is crazy about allowing people equal access? What is the big deal?

the problem is being ignorant to the concerns of others... simple as that...
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post #37 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

You misunderstand. The point, as with web sites that are not accessible, is that it is not necessary. If you use a cane and have trouble using your legs, you are not really disabled if you can walk in through a doorway in order to get inside a store. If that store has a 3 foot threshold, you are suddenly disabled not because of your leg but because of the threshold. If you are a wheel chair user and the door is too narrow, you become disabled. If, on the other hand the door is wide and there is no threshold, you are no longer disabled. Likewise, if you are in a wheelchair and the light switch is too high, the counter is too high, the basin in the public bathroom is too high, etc etc, you become disabled unnecessarily. If you are a mother with a child or two in a buggy and you have to climb 50 steps in order to get out of the subway, you are likewise disabled. Through design we can make people abled, or disabled. Its up to us.
You say you want to be greeted like any other customer. I agree. And surely by the same measure you should be treated like any other customer. By that I mean that the impediments to equality should be removed. Its not really that hard. But it requires dealing with face on and that is what these people are doing.
Its not a matter of being PC. Its just common sense.

well written;-) thnx;-)
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post #38 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokeonit View Post

no

and how is this funny??? it it were...???

Not for one second was i suggesting it was, only that in the writer's twisted mind perhaps they thought it was and therefore not actually being serious ... I was just hoping!

p.s. I worked for a decade with children with cerebral palsy so believe me I wasn't taking his side!
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post #39 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Not for one second was i suggesting it was, only that in the writer's twisted mind perhaps they thought it was and therefore not actually being serious ... I was just hoping!

i think a post like that should always lead to ban for life! nothing less... and why should/could/would a post be funny??? i don;t get it???
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post #40 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokeonit View Post

i think a post like that should always lead to ban for life! nothing less... and why should/could/would a post be funny??? i don;t get it???

I am not disagreeing you there at all ... smoke him
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