Lawsuits demand restaurants provide Braille-printed gift cards

Illustration for article titled Lawsuits demand restaurants provide Braille-printed gift cards
Photo: YakobchukOlena (iStock)

In what’s been described as a “tidal wave” of lawsuits, three New York City law firms are taking on the task of suing more than 100 national restaurants and retail chains for their failure to provide gift cards printed with Braille.

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According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), certain efforts must be made by businesses to accommodate disabled customers and provide them with equal access to services and facilities. By not providing Braille-imprinted gift cards indicating the name of the restaurant and the amount of money on the card, these restaurants, the lawsuits allege, aren’t fulfilling the ADA requirements to ensure an accessible experience for vision-impaired customers. Restaurant Business points out that all of these lawsuits point to Starbucks as the only national restaurant chain that offers a Braille-imprinted gift card option, and even that has only been available since 2013.

Modifying companies’ gift cards is just one facet of the customer experience that the lawsuits seek to make more ADA-compliant; others include varying the size and texture of the gift cards and mandating audio options on restaurants’ websites. The lawsuits are not seeking compensation by these companies; they only seek to change current policies, which could affect millions of Americans.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

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Braille is in something of a decline, which isn’t helped by the arrival of some audio alternatives. Diabetics tend to lose sensitivity in their fingers anyway, but many rehab professionals can’t or won’t teach braille these days.

Another tactile system, Moon, might be better than braille. The characters are closer to the traditional alphabet but might need more space.

The name of the business might be easy to transcribe, less so the amount which can be elastic with modern gift cards. How do you handle top ups or partial spends?