Peapod Agrees to Website and Mobile Applications Accessibility

Peapod website home page

In a settlement agreement announced last Monday with the U.S. Department of Justice, internet grocer Peapod will make its website and mobile applications accessible to people with disabilities.

Peapod is a leading Internet grocery retailer, delivering more than 23 million orders to 24 markets in the Midwest and Eastern United States.

The Justice Department alleged Peapod violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically Title III, which determines whether individuals with disabilities have full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, advantages and accommodations offered by Peapod through its website and mobile applications.

After a compliance review, the Justice Department determined the Peapod website wasn’t 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

According to the settlement agreement (PDF), the Justice Department found the following issues on the Peapod website:

  1. Images, buttons, and form fields that are unlabeled or have inaccurate alternative text
  2. Pop-up modal windows not reported to screen readers
  3. Frames not named or identified
  4. Tables missing header information and proper markup
  5. Boldface type used to show which fields are required
  6. Videos with inaccurate captioning
  7. JavaScript used throughout the website isn’t available to users who cannot use a mouse

To abide by the agreement, Peapod must adopt a number of measures and meet strict deadlines.

What caught my attention, as well as many web accessibility experts/advocates, was the Justice Department’s requirement that the Peapod website and mobile applications conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.

What Peapod Agrees To Do

Within the first 90 days of the agreement, Peapod agrees to:

  • Designate an employee as the Website Accessibility Coordinator for the Peapod website and mobile applications
  • Adopt, implement, and distribute a formal website and mobile application accessibility policy to employees who work on/provide support for the Peapod website and mobile applications
  • Provide notice on the Peapod website soliciting feedback from visitors on how website accessibility can be improved. The notice will provide different methods of feedback, including email address and toll-free number.
  • Retain an independent website accessibility consultant to advise Peapod on how to conform the website and mobile applications to WCAG 2.0 AA. The consultant will verify conformance and establish criteria for selecting testers with disabilities and reviewing test results.

Deadlines for Mobile Applications and Website

Peapod needs to ensure conformance to WCAG 2.0 AA for its mobile applications by March 31, 2015. The website must meet WCAG 2.0 AA conformance by September 30, 2015.

More Requirements

  • Provide automated website and mobile application accessibility testing with an approved accessibility tool.
  • Create a user accessibility testing group consisting of individuals with different disabilities, who will test the usability of essential pages used by Peapod customers
  • By March 15, 2015, provide mandatory annual training on website and mobile application accessibility for Peapod’s website content personnel. Training will be conducted one annually and for all website content personnel hired.
  • Within nine months (and every 12 months thereafter for the term of the agreement), submit a report with explanation of actions taken by Peapod

“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 Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “We applaud Peapod for working cooperatively with the department and for its commitment to customers with disabilities.”

The agreement is effective November 17, 2014 and remains in effect for three years from that date.

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About the Author

Deborah Edwards-Onoro helps small businesses, consultants, nonprofits, and higher ed with creative and distinctive websites. Deborah shares her expertise with web design, user experience, and accessibility on her blog, social media, and at meetup events. As organizer of Refresh Detroit, West Metro Detroit WordPress, and Metro Detroit WordPress, she encourages members to share their knowledge and experiences. In her free time, you'll find her birding, shooting photos, reading, or watching tennis.
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