As we close out 2019, millions of people will exchange restaurant gift cards as holiday gifts. In fact, the holiday season is the biggest time for gift card purchases, accounting for as much as half of annual restaurant gift card sales.
This year, however, a new concern cropped up as we neared Black Friday. In the weeks and months leading up to the official start of the holiday sales season, plaintiffs in New York filed several lawsuits accusing brands of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not offering cards that can be read by the blind. More than 100 suits name retail and restaurant chains, accusing them of violating Title III of the ADA by denying those who are legally blind with equal access to goods and services. While these suits are in New York, they could affect brands nationwide and not only gift cards, but also fare cards, credit cards and other similar products.
The plaintiffs don’t ask for monetary damages, but instead ask that cards be printed with Braille detailing the brand name and the amount pre-loaded on the card. The suits also ask that each card be physically unique so that someone who is visually impaired can tell them apart through touch.
The suits are similar to previous actions around website accessibility, which were filed by the same set of lawyers.
The issue is of great importance here at Paytronix and we’re watching to understand what the courts will ultimately decide. In the meantime, we wanted to inform our customers that we do offer Braille-imprinted cards for all needs and these can be ordered at any time. What you have printed on them is up to you, though we find that most companies print the company name.
Of course, we will continue to watch the progress of these cases and let you know when we hear more specific guidance from the courts.