National Federation of the Blind, et al. v. Scribd, Inc.Empowering blind individuals by working to render accessible the large online library Scribd
In July 2014, DRA filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Heidi Viens, challenging Scribd, Inc.’s failure to design its digital reading subscription service to work with software used by the blind. Available on desktop and mobile devices, Scribd’s service provides users access to a large library of ebooks, audiobooks and other published content for a flat monthly fee.
Scribd moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the ADA only applies to physical locations, thus allegedly exempting Internet-based businesses like Scribd. The Court disagreed with Scribd. Confirming what DRA, NFB, and other advocates have argued, the Court ruled on March 19, 2015 that the ADA does indeed cover online businesses. “Now that the internet plays such a critical role in the personal and professional lives of Americans, excluding disabled persons from access to covered entities that use it as their principal means of reaching the public would defeat the purpose of this important civil rights legislation,” the Court wrote.
Following the Court’s ruling the parties entered into a landmark settlement agreement that will result in accessible content for blind customers via Scribd’s subscription reading service and website by the end of 2017. Under the Agreement, Scribd will re-architect its website to make most subscription content compatible with screen access software for the blind. Scribd will also facilitate access to other types of documents in its collection when requested by blind users.