Coles Settles Blind Claim on Online Shopping
19 February 2015 at 9:24 am
Supermarket giant Coles has agreed to an amicable settlement in a case brought on by a Sydney woman who claimed unlawful discrimination against the supermarket’s online shopping website saying it is not accessible for people who are blind or vision impaired.
The case between Gisele Mesnage, who is blind, and Coles online has settled with Coles agreeing to make improvements to its shopping website that will make it more accessible, according to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) which represented Mesnage in the legal case.
“Ms Mesnage relies on a screen-reader to use the internet. Like many people who are blind or have a vision impairment, she has had ongoing problems using the Coles website to do her shopping since 2008,” PIAC CEO, Edward Santow said.
Pro Bono Australia News reported in October 2014 that after negotiations with Coles failed to bring about a solution, Mesnage brought legal proceedings against the supermarket chain under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
“This settlement is a victory for equality. If you’re blind, it is impossible to do your grocery shopping in a store without assistance. Accessible online grocery shopping is fundamental to allowing our client and other blind people to live independently,” Santow said.
Mesnage said said she was “delighted” that the case has settled with such a positive outcome.
“It demonstrates Coles’ commitment to recognising the importance of accessibility and improving the online shopping experience for everyone,” Mesnage said.
“Online shopping enables people living with disabilities, especially those who are blind or have low vision, to live more independently, saving the time and transport costs and empowering them to do this ordinary domestic task, grocery shopping, on their own.
“I congratulate Coles on taking this important step and call on other online shopping sites to follow suit.”
Mesnage’s case was handled pro bono by litigation funder Bentham IMF.
Mesnage said the legal action was a last resort, after years of negotiations with Coles failed to bring about a lasting solution.