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Beyoncé’s entertainment firm sued by blind woman for discrimination

A legally blind woman in New York has filed a class action lawsuit against Beyoncé Knowles’ Parkwood Entertainment LLC alleging its website discriminates against the visually impaired, the Hollywood Reporter recently reported.

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The woman, Mary Conner, says the star’s website isn’t designed or accessible for the visually impaired and doesn’t give blind fans the chance to buy tickets or merchandise or read about Knowles. Conner has “no vision whatsoever,” according to the Jan. 3 filing.

“The one and only form of entertainment that truly presents an even playing field between the visually impaired and the sighted is the joy of music,” representing attorney Dan Shaked wrote in the complaint. “Plaintiff dreams of attending a Beyonce concert and listening to her music in a live setting. However, when she browsed the website, she encountered numerous barriers which limited her accessibility to the goods and services offered on the website.”

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Her suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, cites the Americans with Disabilities Act, which “requires places of public accommodation to ensure access to goods, services, and facilities by making reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities.” 

Conner asks the court for an injunction that would require Knowles’ company to make adjustments to make the site accessible for blind fans and browsers.

Shaked notes “web accessibility requires that alt-text be coded with each picture so that a screen-reader can speak the alternative text while sighted users see the picture,” but many photos on lack a text equivalent. The website also lacks keyboard-accessible drop-down menus and navigation links.

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According to ABC News, Conner also requests a payout of “compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by proof, including all applicable statutory damages and fines.”

Representatives for Parkwood Entertainment have not yet responded to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s request for comment.

Read the full lawsuit.

About the Author

Fiza Pirani is a web producer and writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She is also currently investigating immigrant and refugee mental health stigma and health care access as a recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.

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