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Monday, November 17, 2014

Justice Department Enters into a Settlement Agreement with Peapod to Ensure that Peapod Grocery Delivery Website is Accessible to Individuals with Disabilities

The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a settlement agreement with Ahold U.S.A. Inc. and Peapod LLC, the owners and operators of www.peapod.com, to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Peapod is America’s leading Internet grocer, delivering more than 23 million orders in 12 Midwest and East Coast states and the District of Columbia.  The agreement resolves the department’s allegations that www.peapod.com is not accessible to some individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or have low vision, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and individuals who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity.       

Many individuals with disabilities use computers and other electronic devices to access the Internet with the help of assistive technologies, including text-to-speech “screen reader” software programs, refreshable Braille displays, keyboard navigation and captioning.  Such technologies have been readily available and widely used for decades; however, websites must include programming for the assistive technologies to function properly for users with disabilities.  Inaccessible websites and mobile applications persist even while there are well-established industry guidelines – the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – for making web content accessible.

Under the agreement, Peapod is required to adopt measures to ensure that users with disabilities are able to fully and equally enjoy the various goods, services, facilities and accommodations provided through www.peapod.com including:

  • ensure that www.peapod.com and its mobile applications conform to, at minimum, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA Success Criteria (WCAG 2.0 AA), except for certain third party content;

  • designate an employee as web accessibility coordinator for www.peapod.com, who will report directly to a Peapod, LLC executive;

  • retain an independent website accessibility consultant, who will annually evaluate the accessibility of the website and  its mobile applications;

  • adopt a formal web accessibility policy;

  • provide a notice on www.peapod.com soliciting feedback from visitors on how website accessibility can be improved;

  • provide automated accessibility testing and accessibility testing by individuals with a variety of disabilities of www.peapod.com and its mobile applications;

  • provide mandatory annual training on website accessibility for Peapod’s website content personnel.

“This agreement ensures that people with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to independently and conveniently shop online for groceries,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “We applaud Peapod for working cooperatively with the department and for its commitment to customers with disabilities.”

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of places of public accommodations.  Title III of the ADA also requires public accommodations to take necessary steps to ensure individuals with disabilities are not excluded, denied services, segregated, or otherwise treated differently because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, such as accessible electronic information.  The Justice Department has long considered Title III and its implementing regulation to apply to the online services and communications of public accommodations.

To find out more about federal disability rights laws, call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov

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Updated August 6, 2015