Blind Woman Sues TD Ameritrade Over Allegedly Inaccessible Website
A woman in New York State has filed a class-action lawsuit against TD Ameritrade claiming that the discount brokerage firm’s website and some of its trading software is inaccessible through screen reader vocalization software and other standard tools used by the blind and visually impaired.
Citing account-opening drop-down menus that cannot be read, malfunctioning edit fields, non-standard keyboard controls for reading text and inaccessible “fine-print” terms and conditions, the lawsuit claims violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and of New York human rights and civil rights laws.
“Although TD Ameritrade touts its ‘easy’ process, by which a user can ‘[o]pen an account in five simple steps,’ the process is anything but ‘simple’ for a blind individual,” the complaint filed in federal court in the Northern District of New York says. “[I]ndeed, it is virtually impossible.”
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of blind and visually impaired people “so numerous as to make it impractical” to estimate their number, asserts that “thousands of other large business entities, including several of [TD Ameritrade’s] direct competitors,” have adapted their websites to conform with well-established guidelines for making them accessible to blind people.
Kim Hillyer, a spokeswoman for Omaha-based TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., said the company does not as a matter of policy comment on pending litigation.
The complaint was filed on behalf of named plaintiff Elizabeth Aldworth, who it said became a TD Ameritrade customer when it bought another broker in 2007 where she held accounts that were previously accessible. Aldworth, who lives in Ulster County, NY, moved her assets in 2008 to Scottrade, which TD Ameritrade bought in September.
Alworth remains unable to access TDAmeritrade.com, which she tried to do in preparation for the transfer of her remaining Roth account to the Ameritrade platform early this year, according to the lawsuit.
The purported class was filed on behalf of blind and visually impaired people nationally and of a subclass of similar individuals residing in New York. It seeks to require an immediate remedy to the alleged website deterrences, compensatory damages to be determined at trial and attorneys’ fees and other legal costs and related expenses.
Lydia K. Reynolds, one of the lawyers who submitted the case and is of counsel at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz in New York, declined to discuss the allegations in detail because TD Ameritrade has not yet been served with the complaint. It was filed on Monday.