Class action suit claims Apple Store POS system discriminates against visually impaired

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2015
A class action lawsuit filed last week asserts Apple's point of sale system discriminates against visually impaired customers as the specialized iPod touch-based equipment is impossible to operate without help from a staff member.

POS


The complaint, lodged with a Florida district court last Friday (via TUAW), asserts Apple's deployment of iPod payment systems is in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which calls for retail outlets to provide a POS system independently accessible by a blind customer. More specifically, plaintiff argues that entering a secret PIN when paying with a debit card is nearly impossible without guided help.
Defendant's use of flat touch screen POS Devices discriminates against blind and visually impaired consumers in violation of the ADA by denying them full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations at Defendant's stores.
Central to the plaintiff's argument is the fact that other businesses use POS systems that feature tactile key inputs, some of which have braille or other raised markings to denote numbers. Because Apple uses a flat capacitive touchscreen, visually impaired customers cannot independently navigate the on-screen UI when entering a debit card PIN.

At many Apple Stores, employees carry around EasyPay iPod POS systems that feature a magnetic card reader and integrated barcode scanner.

While Apple has baked in various accessibility options into iOS, including VoiceOver, the features are largely audio-based, meaning they are useless in a secure POS environment. It is possible that headphones could be used to direct visually impaired users during the payment process, though the solution would likely be too cumbersome for Apple's liking.

Unlike other suits brought against Apple of late, the class action is not seeking damages. Instead, the suit is looking to have Apple's POS systems updated or replaced to be in compliance with ADA regulations.

As is the norm in such cases, plaintiff also seeks to be recompensed for costs associated with the suit and payment of reasonable attorneys' fees.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 91
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,822member

    You should try a Samsung store

  • Reply 2 of 91
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,453member
    "looking to have Apple's POS systems updated or replaced"

    I laughed only cause my mind constantly chooses to look at all contexts.
  • Reply 3 of 91
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Seems reasonable to me:

    - Telling your PIN to a retail employee is certainly unacceptable.

    - They are seeking a solution, not a payout.

    Apple is a leader in this stuff and I'm sure a fix will come. If not VoiceOver (due to potentially loud background) then a Bluetooth tactile numpad located in the store and paired with one of the units, ready to call on when the situation arises.
  • Reply 4 of 91
    You dont use pins for debit at an Apple store. They all get ran as credit and signed for.
  • Reply 5 of 91
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    nagromme wrote: »
    Seems reasonable to me:

    - Telling your PIN to a retail employee is certainly unacceptable.

    - They are seeking a solution, not a payout.

    Apple is a leader in this stuff and I'm sure a fix will come. If not VoiceOver (due to potentially loud background) then a Bluetooth tactile numpad located in the store and paired with one of the units, ready to call on when the situation arises.

    How about just allowing them to plug in their headphones and have the employee enable VoiceOver, which is already part of those iOS devices. All it needs is a little training of the employees to get them up to speed on the rare occasions they would service the visually impaired in this way.
  • Reply 6 of 91
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post



    Apple is a leader in this stuff and I'm sure a fix will come.

     

    Pretty much.  I associate with a blind person on a semi-regular basis and he swears by Apple products and their accessibility options.  I trust his word when he says Apple is light years ahead in that category.

  • Reply 7 of 91
    All drive thru windows discriminate against the blind. Ice cream stores discriminate against the lactose intolerant. Wheaties discriminates against those with a gluten allergy. Don't get me started on the Big 3 (Jif, Skippy, & Peter Pan) and how they simply refuse to help those with nut allergies.
  • Reply 8 of 91
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post

     

    Pretty much.  I associate with a blind person on a semi-regular basis and he swears by Apple products and their accessibility options.  I trust his word when he says Apple is light years ahead in that category.


    Same here. One of my best friends is blind. The world in general is not a very blind friendly place. I would imagine one way to solve this Apple Store problem is to use the Apple Store app. Then they hand you the product and you walk out of the store. That way you can pay for it in advance from the privacy of your home where a friend or family member can assist you if for some reason the built-in iOS accessibility settings are not good enough on their own. 

  • Reply 9 of 91
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,116member
    I don't mean to be rude, if you're too visually impaired to see a touchscreen, what exactly are buying from the apple store? It is a bit unreasonable to expect every piece of technology to cater to the visually impaired. Do tablets and smart phones also discriminate because of lack of tactility? Also, I don't recall ever buying anything from an apple store without using a physical mobile keypad.
  • Reply 10 of 91
    woochiferwoochifer Posts: 365member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by freqsound View Post



    All drive thru windows discriminate against the blind. Ice cream stores discriminate against the lactose intolerant. Wheaties discriminates against those with a gluten allergy. Don't get me started on the Big 3 (Jif, Skippy, & Peter Pan) and how they simply refuse to help those with nut allergies.

     

    Try getting through an average day with a blindfold on, and tell us how that goes.

  • Reply 11 of 91
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Just put a screen protector on which has a raised dot over the 5.

     

    Then it will be just like any other POS keypad.

     

    In Australia we've been using PIN's for twenty or more years, it's about time the US caught up.

  • Reply 12 of 91
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post



    I don't mean to be rude, if you're too visually impaired to see a touchscreen, what exactly are buying from the apple store? 

    Blind people, in the US at least, have overwhelmingly endorsed iPhones. With the accessibility options, dictation and Siri, it has made their daily lives much improved.

  • Reply 13 of 91
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    slurpy wrote: »
    I don't mean to be rude, if you're too visually impaired to see a touchscreen, what exactly are buying from the apple store? It is a bit unreasonable to expect every piece of technology to cater to the visually impaired. Do tablets and smart phones also discriminate because of lack of tactility? Also, I don't recall ever buying anything from an apple store without using a physical mobile keypad.

    Apple's iOS and Mac OS X-based devices cater to a wide range of impairments, especially the visually impaired.
  • Reply 14 of 91
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    Blind people, in the US at least, have overwhelmingly endorsed iPhones. With the accessibility options, dictation and Siri, it has made their daily lives much improved.

    It seems ironic on the surface since the display doesn't offer any tactical feedback.
  • Reply 15 of 91
    maccherrymaccherry Posts: 924member
    Bet you a competitor is behind this bogus lawsuit.
  • Reply 16 of 91
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post



    Blind people, in the US at least, have overwhelmingly endorsed iPhones. With the accessibility options, dictation and Siri, it has made their daily lives much improved.




    It seems ironic on the surface since the display doesn't offer any tactical feedback.

    You can turn on Voiceover and check it out for yourself.

  • Reply 17 of 91
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member

    I'm surprised that Apple stores don't have a solution for this already.  Either a physical pin entry terminal at the back of the store for use as needed, or via the Apple.com Web site using any of the MacBooks available.

     

    Apropos of nothing, just yesterday I made a purchase from an Apple store with the assistance of a deaf employee.  We communicated via the MacBook Air that he carried around.  I think that's the first time I've engaged with a ear-impared salesperson at any store, so I suspect Apple is slightly ahead of the game in this disability stuff.

  • Reply 18 of 91
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by maccherry View Post



    Bet you a competitor is behind this bogus lawsuit.

    Probably just your run of the mill disability law attorney 

  • Reply 19 of 91
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    maccherry wrote: »
    Bet you a competitor is behind this bogus lawsuit.

    I would doubt it because of the very high chance it could backfire. Apple can show they are above board but much better than their competitors.
  • Reply 20 of 91
    woochiferwoochifer Posts: 365member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post



    I don't mean to be rude, if you're too visually impaired to see a touchscreen, what exactly are buying from the apple store? It is a bit unreasonable to expect every piece of technology to cater to the visually impaired. Do tablets and smart phones also discriminate because of lack of tactility? Also, I don't recall ever buying anything from an apple store without using a physical mobile keypad.



    iOS incorporates a lot of accessibility options for the visually impaired.  Consider iOS' compatibility with Braille monitors, among other features.  This seems to indicate that it's a market that they value. 

     

    https://www.apple.com/accessibility/ios/braille-display.html

     

    Also, recall Tim Cook's outburst at last week's shareholder meeting when he took issue with a right-wing think tank's assertion that Apple needed to abandon its sustainability initiatives and only focus on the ROI when doing anything.  Even though the media narrative focused on Apple's environmental stances, the example that Cook cited in his retort was Apple's work on making its devices accessible. 

     

    Quote:



    What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR's advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.

    "When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI." He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.



    http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/tim-cook-soundly-rejects-politics-of-the-ncppr-suggests-group-sell-apples-s

     

    This is about as emphatic as anything I've heard from Cook, and seems to indicate that this is a priority for Apple. I would guess that Apple will come up with a solution in short order.  When they went to the current iOS-based POS setup for their retail stores, accessibility probably took a backseat to other priorities such as eliminating centralized POS terminals and cash payments.  Decentralizing the stores such that all of their employees could complete a sale anywhere within the store (and now with iBeacons, consumers being able to complete a sales transaction on their iOS device) is a pretty radical departure from the norm in retail, especially for stores like Apple's that handle very high sales volumes. But, in the process, the smaller more portable devices used for POS transactions are definitely less accessible. 

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