Redbox sued over access for visually impaired

January 12, 2012 9:28:25 PM PST
Redbox is being sued by a group of people with disabilities. The federal civil rights lawsuit says the giant movie rental service discriminates against blind people.

Many movies are dialogue driven and can be enjoyed by the visually impaired.

"You can enjoy large aspects of the narrative without needing to see the visual aspect of the movie at all," Disability Rights Advocates lawyer Michael Nunez said.

Friends and family can also help.

"If there's kind of a non-verbal part of the movie happening, you know, they'll describe what's happening to me," lawsuit plaintiff Lisamaria Martinez said.

But the kiosks of the video rental giant Redbox are difficult, if not impossible, to use for those who are blind and visually impaired. The lawsuit says Redbox needs to change the technology in their kiosks so the visually impaired can rent movies too.

"They have neither tactile buttons nor any other screen feature that would allow blind people to navigate their way through the kiosks," Martinez said.

Martinez and Nunez are almost totally blind. Martinez is suing Redbox. Nunez is a lawyer from Disability Rights Advocates, who's filed the civil rights lawsuit.

For Martinez and others with the same disability, Redbox's touch screen is just another flat surface.

"It's so important for technology, aka Redbox and their touch screen technology, to be accessible to everyone," Martinez said.

Martinez points to BART's ticket kiosks as an example of a system that's using more intuitive technology to help blind people navigate.

"In brail they say'A' and in raised print; so if you didn't know brail but you can read raised print, it has it here too," Martinez said.

Not only do BART's machines have tactile buttons, they also have verbal instructions.

Martinez says her reason for filing suit is rather simple.

"I just want to be treated equal, equal rights like my sighted peers and be able to enjoy movies," Martinez said.

Calls to Redbox were not returned. Disability Rights Advocates say they reached out to Redbox executives, who said they would look into the situation, but so far there has been no response. This story is from our sister station, KGO-TV in San Francisco.